The Norwegians, who are sitting on a nice supply of oil and who are using the proceeds from it to fund long term social obligations, appear to be leading in the move to thorium based reactors.
....Commercially developed thorium reactors may not be very far off. There are two major developments as far as this story goes: Norway, in partnership with other countries, is racing to develop a commercially viable thorium fuel cycle to replace uranium-enriched rods for current light water reactors with thorium fuel, and India – and perhaps other countries as well – is looking at fourth-generation nuclear reactors as the next revolution in nuclear generation with many more modular formats similar to what we tried for the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR).
Norway’s commercialproofing can be done in the next five years at substantially lower costs than those associated with the PBMR.
I am not a supporter of nuclear power but, clearly, the Norwegians, who do not even have nuclear power, have worked out a very strategic niche and role for themselves. We should apply their ‘nose’ for strategic niches to the development of cutting-edge renewables technologies.
...Thorium reactors can be built big, but, because of comparative simplicity, reliability and safety from radiation, LFTRs can also be built small, cheap, fast and safe.
There is talk that LFTRs could be built on an assembly line like airliners, cutting costs hugely. LFTRs’ low operation and storage radiation risk allows a disseminated, resilient, energy-efficient and green power grid.
Vermont could have 10 100-megawatt LFTRs and get the rest of its electrical energy from wind turbines in each of its 7,000 farmers’ fields.
China, Russia, India and Germany are really getting into thorium as an alternative. But LFTRs let the little guy get into the act — the Czech Republic is aggressive in transitioning to thorium.
If it can, Vermont can too — retrain Vermont Yankee’s engineers for thorium — to transform Vermont and then the world. Vermont needs a big piece of that action! We should shut down Vermont Yankee, retrain, and have a crash effort in converting to thorium-LFTR, renewables and conservation — the growth industry of the millennia.
If we have another 20 years of nuclear business as usual we will lose our window and China will have a monopoly on rare earths and thorium, as well as nuclear reactors.
... thorium hit a dead end. Locked in a struggle with a nuclear- armed Soviet Union, the US government in the ’60s chose to build uranium-fueled reactors — in part because they produce plutonium that can be refined into weapons-grade material. The course of the nuclear industry was set for the next four decades, and thorium power became one of the great what-if technologies of the 20th century.
Today, however, Sorensen spearheads a cadre of outsiders dedicated to sparking a thorium revival. When he’s not at his day job as an aerospace engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama — or wrapping up the master’s in nuclear engineering he is soon to earn from the University of Tennessee — he runs a popular blog called Energy From Thorium. A community of engineers, amateur nuclear power geeks, and researchers has gathered around the site’s forum, ardently discussing the future of thorium. The site even links to PDFs of the Oak Ridge archives, which Sorensen helped get scanned. Energy From Thorium has become a sort of open source project aimed at resurrecting long-lost energy technology using modern techniques.
And the online upstarts aren’t alone. Industry players are looking into thorium, and governments from Dubai to Beijing are funding research. India is betting heavily on the element.
The concept of nuclear power without waste or proliferation has obvious political appeal in the US, as well. The threat of climate change has created an urgent demand for carbon-free electricity, and the 52,000 tons of spent, toxic material that has piled up around the country makes traditional nuclear power less attractive.
You'll see in the op I posted a site with a batch of Sorensen videos. In the one I've linked in later posts, he goes into some detail on Nixon's decisions back in '72-'73 which were central to closing the door on the thorium option.
We have a new two unit nuclear plant in the planning stages west of us in eastern Utah.
Various issues related to the permitting process have sparked a bit of local conversation on how best to proceed....that's where I first started hearing about the prospects of thorium based nuclear technology, stumbled across Sorensen, and started asking some questions to learn more about it and the various interests involved.
Nuclear Energy Advocates Pushing Thorium -- Is it a panacea?
Ken Silverstein | Apr 15, 2012
...The next-generation reactors, called “fourth generation,” are those that run at very high temperatures. Such units result in higher thermal efficiency. They also have the potential for use in industrial applications and hydrogen production.
The odds of any radioactive leaks are near zero.
Those are the kinds of reactors that can use thorium as a fuel. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy is allocating now $200,000 to government researchers so that they can explore such a possibility. It’s up against the more prevailing fuels like uranium. By 2021, the national laboratories will suggest a design.
“All fourth generation reactors make much less waste and run at higher temperatures,” says Kutsch. “But the similarity ends there. Inherently, thorium is much more abundant and easier to handle.”
The reality is that solid fuel reactors using uranium are now supplying 20 percent of this country’s electric generation. Liquid fuel reactors that use thorium will not replace them.
But the thorium technology still has place in the mix, as evidenced by the researching going on here, as well as in France, South Korea and Russia. China will get there first and if it succeeds, the science will be applied elsewhere.
Joined: 06 Dec 2004 Posts: 1616 Location: Tell you if we ride together
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:12 am Post subject:
It's a breeder
Th232 not fissile, has to be converted to U233
This is identical to breeding Pu239 from U238
Good great science
But politically tough; the no breeder lobby will reawaken
PS: the U233 we make from Th is Sweeeeet weapon material, can make it super pure with no spontaneous fission sources mucking it up _________________ If you are doing less than loving whatever you are giving your attention to, you are not who you were really born to be.
It has been claimed that thorium fuel cycles with reprocessing would be much less of a
proliferation risk because the thorium can be mixed with uranium-238. In this case, fissile
uranium-233 is also mixed with non-fissile uranium-238. The claim is that if the uranium-
238 content is high enough, the mixture cannot be used to make bombs without a complex
uranium enrichment plant.
This is misleading.
More uranium-238 does dilute the
uranium-233, but it also results in the production of more plutonium-239 as the reactor
So the proliferation problem remains – either bomb-usable uranium-233 or
bomb-useable plutonium is created and can be separated out by reprocessing.
There is just no way to avoid proliferation problems associated with
thorium fuel cycles that involve reprocessing. Thorium fuel cycles without reprocessing
would offer the same temptation to reprocess as today’s once-through uranium fuel cycles.
Granted, this is a business journal and most likely just echoing bullet/talking points from one of the pro-thorium organizations.
Unlike uranium, thorium has no value to terrorists or rogue states seeking nuclear weapons. It is safe both on a global scale, and a local one: Energy reactors can be designed to have no meltdown risk, because thorium dissolves in hot liquid fluoride salts....With the potential for plentiful, clean and safe energy, the R and D required to get thorium energy off the ground is well worth it. Both existing and past administrations have shown a willingness to invest in nuclear energy in the form of loan guarantees, and conventional nuclear reactors can be retrofitted to accommodate thorium as a transition to commercial-scale thorium reactors.
We need to step up and give thorium the opportunity to succeed and be part of the energy discussion.
And from John Kutsch, one of the leaders in the pro-thorium movement in his home town paper:
Thorium is a mildly radioactive alpha particle emitter, as opposed to uranium’s harmful gamma particles, Kutsch explained, meaning that thorium is not only safe to handle, it is proliferation resistant and can’t be made into weapons.
So....sources saying U233 or Plutonium makes the thorium fuel cycle a boon for proliferation, and other sources which say it's not an issue. Can't both be right.
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