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Thorium reactors

  • Wed, Nov 17, 2010 - 08:56pm

    #40
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    Thorium reactors

Please read about Thorium and if someone can verify any of these facts please share. There is a lot of information on Wikipedia and I know sometimes it is not always accurate. Still, there seem to be many benefits to Thorium and if the technology is that close then it is no wonder none of the powers is talking about it as an alternative. There is still far too much money to be made in petroleum to be looking at Thorium reactors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium

Highlights from Wikipedia:

  • Thorium can be used for nuclear fuel. It is about 4-5 times more abundant than all isotopes of Uranium combined and is already a by product of rare earth metals mining. It is estimated that 1 ton of Thorium produces as much energy as 200 tons of Uranium.
  • Thorium itself is not fissile but will absorb slow neutrons to produce U-233 which is fissile. This means only a small amount of Uranium ever exists at a time.
  • Thorium is much more readily available for reactor fuel than Uranium which must be heavily refined to get the right isotopes for use as a fuel.
  • A molten-salt based Thorium reactor has built in safety measures which automatically throttle the reactor and cannot melt down so the “not in my backyard” problem should be eliminated. This will also decrease the cost of running the reactor.
  • The by products and nuclear waste are greatly reduced over Uranium.
  • The United States is the largest holder of Thorium reserves and controls 33% of the world’s reserves. Some experts believe that the energy stored in the Earth’s Thorium reserves is greater than what is available from all other fossil and nuclear fuels combined.
  • Since the reactor is actually a Uranium reactor with the fuel coming from the Thorium, most of the technology for a Thorium based reactor already exists. It did not mention it in the Wiki article but I did read elsewhere that if the US declared we were going to go full scale Thorium we could be 100% operational in under 5 years.
  • There are several examples in the Wiki of projects all over the world involving Thorium. India’s prototype reactor is already under construction and is expected to be fully operational next year. However, this is not going to be a molten-salt reactor.

This is real stuff and apparently has been known for decades. I cannot believe I never heard about it before a few weeks ago. I was also amazed to read:

In 2008, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Thorium Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008, which would mandate a US Department of Energy initiative to examine the commercial use of thorium in US reactors. The bill, however, did not reach a full Senate vote.

Again, as long as petroleum is profitable it will be the fuel of choice. Even if we’ve already passed peak oil, there is still much more to be had out there, albeit at increasing costs. It will not be until the cost is too great that we as a people, our corporations and governments will begin looking at viable alternatives. Please educate yourself about it and for anyone else that can provide real information and knowledge, please share.