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However, a fast breeder reactor can convert Uranium-238 into Plutonium-239 at a rate faster than it consumes its fuel. By repeated recycling of the fuel it should be realistically possible to exploit 50% of the fuel value of the uranium feed. This means that fast reactors could extend the energy output from the world's uranium fuel reserves 25 fold.
If a neutron is captured by a Uranium-238 nucleus the following reaction takes place:
The result is that Uranium-238, which is very difficult to fission, is transformed into Plutonium-239 which can be fissioned much more easily. This means that a useful reactor fuel can be made from an otherwise useless natural resource. The symbol +n represents the gain of a neutron by capture and b - represents radioactive decay by beta emission with the half-life shown below the arrow.
Thorium, as well as uranium, can be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor. Although not fissile itself, thorium-232 (Th-232) will absorb slow neutrons to produce uranium-233 (U-233), which is fissile. Hence, like uranium-238 (U-238), it is fertile.
In one significant respect U-233 is better than uranium-235 and plutonium-239, because of its higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. Given a start with some other fissile material (U-235 or Pu-239), a breeding cycle similar to but more efficient than that with U-238 and plutonium (in slow-neutron reactors) can be set up.
Lausanne, June 28, 2005 – The Six Parties of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) consortium have reached a decision in their negotiations, specifying the location of the world's first energy-producing fusion reactor in Cadarache, in Southern France. The €10 billion project will generate multiple research opportunities for the Plasma Physics Research Center at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Originally posted by Darkpr0
Excellent post. I think Canada needs some more reactors tho, it would jump start our development and allow us to export. More money =)
Originally posted by whaaa
Reasearch into new ways of producing nuclear power seems to be reasearching bass akwards.
Figure out what to do with the toxic/waste before you build new plants.
Oh, I can tell you what to do with the nuclear waste. Any guesses?
Not in my backyard! How about yours?
IMO clean, alternative, solar, wind, wave should be getting the R&D money, In the mean time let's use our enormous reserves of natural gas to fuel power plants.
When the proponents of nuclear power can clean it up so It won't pose any danger to future generations; maybe then I could support it as an energy source.
I'm not very happy with coal fired generating plants either. Look at the smog in the Grand Canyon. Yuk!!
[edit on 24-8-2005 by whaaa]