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Uranium-233 does not exist naturally, but about a ton of the stuff was transmuted from Thorium-232 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960's. Some people would have us blend this exceedingly rare element with natural uranium for disposal. However, Uranium-233 can be used in an advanced nuclear reactor with interesting properties. Uranium-233 is the cleanest burning fissile material. Employed as an initial fuel load for a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, this small supply of Uranium-233 can be the match to ignite a process that produces a huge supply of electricity along with small quantities of useful fission products. In particular, the LFTR produces small amounts of Plutonium-238, essential for NASA's deep space missions; Technetium-99m, exceedingly valuable for medical imaging; and other specialized isotopes used in cancer treatments. Nuclear power reactors can be engineered to produce many valuable materials through transmutation belying the term "nuclear waste".
Kirk Sorensen is chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. He has been researching the nuclear fuel cycle for many years in connection with a strong interest in thorium as a planetary energy source. He is also a PhD student in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville under Dr. Laurence Miller. He runs a blog called "energyfromthorium.com" and is active in the Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA) and the International Thorium Energy Organization (IThEO) and is also a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS).
The United States is facing a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion this year, and the new Republican-led House of Representatives (where spending originates in the US government) is looking for ways to save money.
1. We in the thorium community have a significant idea for how the government can
save $500 million dollars
2. accelerate the development of LFTR
3. help NASA explore deep space
4. save thousands of lives from cancer
It’s pretty simple–cancel the Department of Energy’s plan to destroy the uranium-233 stored at Oak Ridge National Lab.
The DOE’s own Inspector General has begged them to stop, in order to preserve the valuable medical isotopes derived from the U-233 that can help fight cancer.
This is a very expensive project to destroy a very valuable resource. Please ask your Congressman to put an end to this waste of taxpayer money and to direct the DOE to use the U-233 for LFTRs that will produce electrical power and valuable materials for NASA’s space exploration and cancer-fighting medical isotopes
As an ignorant member of the community all I hear is Uranium and go hmm, nasty stuff.
For a claim as a cure to cancer it is over the top, too expensive and half life is too long.
Produced by adding an extra neutron to thorium, the uranium slowly breaks down into another form of thorium, and then into other isotopes, including actinium 225 and bismuth 213. What distinguishes both of these for cancer treatments is that as they decay into new materials, they emit alpha particles. These particles can be superior to the standard form of radiation used to treat cancer, gamma rays, because the rays travel long distances through tissue and damage many cells, while the alpha particles have very short trajectories, and carry relatively huge amounts of energy.
“A single atom delivered to a cancer cell can kill that cell,” said Dr. David A. Scheinberg, chairman of the experimental therapeutics center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “Nothing else approaches that.”
Research trials at Sloan-Kettering on patients with acute myeloid leukemia are showing promising results, Dr. Scheinberg said, using antibodies to deliver the radioactive atoms directly to the tumors. Researchers there are testing the technique in animals for prostate, colon, lymphoma and brain tumors.
The isotopes have a convoluted history. Uranium 233 very slowly breaks down into thorium 229, half of it making the conversion over 159,000 years. There is a significant amount of thorium 229 only because the Energy Department has had tons of uranium sitting around for decades.
The thorium is not medically useful, but its half-life, the time for half to convert, is 7,340 years, and it decays into a radium isotope, and then into actinium, which has a 10-day half-life. (Short half-lives are desirable in this kind of cancer treatment, because such materials deliver their dose promptly.) One of the “daughters” of actinium is bismuth, which has a half-life of only 45.6 minutes. Researchers are testing both the actinium and the bismuth as therapeutic drugs.
Various alternative processes have been proposed for making actinium and bismuth, but none have been proved.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved two radioactive materials for delivery by antibody, both beta emitters, Dr. Scheinberg said; it has not yet approved an alpha emitter. Beta particles have less energy and travel farther, making them less helpful in treatment.
You might want to read the links in the links I posted. It is not a 'cure' to all cancer although it may be a viable treatment option which should be able to kill tumors.
Uranium 233 very slowly breaks down into thorium 229, half of it making the conversion over 159,000 years.