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Is thorium the future of nuclear power?

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posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 12:01 AM
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Nuclear plants use only 1%-3% of the Uranium fuel where Thorium reactors use about 97% of the fuel. Also, Thorium is about 4 times as abundant as Uranium, easier to mine and process. I would LOVE to see the Thorium powered cars. Could you imagine not ever having to buy gas?




posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 12:27 AM
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wonder if germany is already using thorium reactors, since they were
into this reasearch since the 30s



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 01:10 AM
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Although I support any new means of creating energy. I feel that the replies to the OP are misinformed as to why Uranium is used over Thorium.

It comes down to economics, abundancy and feasibility are two seperate monsters

There is no such thing as a thorium mine for a reason. There is no such thing as a Thorium deposit

You may be confused, how can the Earth be abundant with Thorium but yet there is no such thing as a Thorium deposit.

Imagine mining the entire ocean for gold, because there is more gold particulate in the ocean than all physical gold on earth. It simply can't be done because the operating costs outweigh the recovery profits.

Same for Thorium, you will need to remove an abundant amount of earth to get an abundant amount of Thorium. Extracting earth is no easy feat.

This is why high grade uranium deposits are "feasible" because there is a defined amount (100 million pounds u3o8) in a defined area. This way the margins can be calculated based on the price of u308 vs the amount of ground extracted per pound of u308. The higher the grade of uranium the less ground you need to remove, lowering your costs.



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 03:50 AM
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There are no thorium mines because most thorium is mined as a byproduct of mining other minerals like rare earths.

Thorium reactors can be seeded with depleted uranium to increase there output and use up the large stockpiles of DU in the US.

Other wise DU is a waste product with little use that must be stored forever.



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 03:56 AM
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More information about thorium from Geoscience Australia:

www.ga.gov.au...



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 04:21 AM
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posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 05:00 AM
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Theres a fat chance in a cold hell that our
politicians and their current politics will
allow this..

Its all due to comersialism...

Cheaper means: LESS doe in the pocket for state...

Money Money Money Money Money Money Money Money

And no end to it



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 06:27 AM
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I think uranium was used because nuclear technology was first thoroughly explored during world war two and the start of the cold war where great powers wanted to develop nuclear weapons and reactors to power submarines as quickly as possible. Thorium can not be used directly as a fuel, it has to be transformed into uranium and used in a type of reactor called a breeder, but to begin transforming thorium into uranium a nuclear reaction starting with mined uranium is required. It was simply quicker and easier to make naval reactors and weapons out of uranium. The civilian reactors that followed on, while they do not make plutonium for nuclear weapons, were simply larger versions of reactors originally designed for nuclear submarines.

Research during the 1950's and 1960's continued on both thorium and uranium reactors. The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment which utilized the thorium cycle operated from 1965 to 1969, but then attention focused on another type of reactor called the Fast Breeder. The Fast Breeder creates Plutonium-239 from Uranium-238 (DU) and then uses the Plutonium-239 as fuel. It can also use nuclear waste as fuel. It has many or even most of the advantages of thorium reactors but the technology did not pan out either (for a number of reasons) for a number of reasons.

So here we are today, current and all new reactors are basically enhanced versions of reactors originally designed for nuclear submarines in the 1950's. Both thorium and plutonium breeder technologies won't be invested in because they need hundreds of millions of dollars of further development and might not even get licensed in the end because the regulators have no experience with these designs. Government support is difficult to attain simply because it has the world 'nuclear' in it, never mind that it solves all of the problems regarding existing nuclear technology. It's also easier to burn dangerous explosive natural gas and then dump the pollutants into the atmosphere. Those are the reasons. Most of them silly.

At least China is doing something about it:

China Initiates Thorium MSR Project

The People’s Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology, it was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) annual conference on Tuesday, January 25. An article in the Wenhui News followed on Wednesday (Google English translation). Chinese researchers also announced this development on the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum.

energyfromthorium.com...


Also there seems to be some misconceptions in this thread. Thorium doesn't automatically solve all the issues with current reactors, it needs to be implemented in a special type of reactor called a breeder. Unless is this done then it will still have require uranium mining to some extent. Thus it's not as simple as changing fuel, like changing from unleaded to diesel. A totally different reactor is required to take full advantage of Thorium.

Not a whole lot since the 1960's has been done with Thorium. Recently there has been efforts to revive it. And unless they get help and support, then it's not going to happen, unless China or something gets it going.
edit on 8/10/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 06:37 AM
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Originally posted by Wolf321
Am I the only one wondering why we weren't using this already if it was abundant, safer and cleaner? Did I miss something about it being a recently developed process?


Fossil fuels are still too cheap, and there is large industial inertia due to billions invested in LWR designs (chosen as preffered design during the cold war). Nuclear has large development and capital costs, as well as regulatory obstacles, and instead of a hype as with renewables, it is being neglected due to nuclear=evil meme.

Thorium power has the potential to power the civilisation for centuries, and do it safely and cheaply. It is the future not only of nuclear power, but energy industry in general.


edit on 8/10/11 by Maslo because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 06:56 AM
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reply to post by ADUB77
 


You're making things up as you go along.

There is such a thing as a thorium deposit, just there is no need for a dedicated thorium mine because at the moment there is no real use for thorium. The small amount of thorium that is needed can be produced from other rare-earth mines. Thorium isn't used for the reason you suggested, for the real reason see my previous post.


Minerals such as monazite, thorite and thorianite are rich in thorium and may be mined for the metal.

www.epa.gov...



: Thorium resources occur in geologic provinces similar to those that contain reserves. The leading
share is contained in placer deposits. Resources of more than 500,000 tons are contained in placer, vein, and
carbonatite deposits. Disseminated deposits in various other alkaline igneous rocks contain additional resources of more than 2 million tons. Large thorium resources are found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland (Denmark), India, South Africa, and the United States.

minerals.usgs.gov...


According to the above source, 99.99% pure Thorium dioxide costs $252 per kilogram. One gigawatt-year of electricity can be produced with 1 metric ton of Thorium thus the fuel cost for for the thorium would be around 0.003 cents per kilowatt hour. Practically free.



edit on 8/10/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 07:18 AM
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A company aimed to develop and commercialise LFTRs has been founded recently by thorium energy advocate Kirk Sorensen.

flibe-energy.com...
en.wikipedia.org...




posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 02:09 PM
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Greetings,

QUOTE> Thorium can not be used directly as a fuel, it has to be transformed into uranium and used in a type of reactor called a breeder, but to begin transforming

Where in the world did you come up with this?

QUOTE> Fossil fuels are still too cheap, and there is large industrial inertia due to billions invested in LWR designs

Not if you include the health problems, waste problems, and gov subsidies.

An aside: peswiki.com is now reporting on a commercial cold fusion device. This technology could make thorium obsolete.



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 04:10 PM
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best thing about thorium reactors is we can use these to burn away our stockpile of spent nuclear fuel by injecting it into the reactor ( surten type reactor

and we can use traveling wave reactor for spent fuel rods too
nextbigfuture.com...
edit on 8-10-2011 by MarkLuitzen because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2011 @ 11:53 PM
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reply to post by GeorgeH
 



Where in the world did you come up with this?


Thorium is not fissile.

energyfromthorium.com...

If Thorium is added to a reactor that's not a breeder, then fissile fuel, like uranium or plutonium would have to be added to sustain the reaction. And then almost all of the claimed advantages of Thorium disappear and Thorium merely takes the place of Uranium-238 - which doesn't do much. Alternatively, some neutron source could be used such as a particle accelerator like in a Accelerator Driven System, to breed uranium-233 from thorium.

Where in the world did you come up with the idea that thorium can be used directly as a fuel like uranium?
edit on 9/10/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 03:20 AM
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...
edit on 9/10/11 by Maslo because: mistake



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 02:49 PM
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Originally posted by GeorgeH
Greetings,

The uranium and plutonium waste can be consumed in thorium reactor.

Present reactors can be converted.

Thorium reactors do not need a water source. Can be built anywhere.

Thorium reactors are cheaper to build.

Inherently safe. Automatic shut down in case of earth quake, etc.

The ONLY reason we use uranium fueled reactors is for the plutonium for nuke bombs. No other reason.

Can be scaled for regional needs.


the traits you mentioned all must be the result of different design rather than the fuel.

i'll give you a hint: Thorium allows you to breed in a thermal neutron spectrum, this is big news if you know what a thermal neutron spectrum is and how it affects fuel load and operating characteristics...

most the list you gave should apply for a working liquid fueled thorium breeder with a Brayton or Ericsson cycle based heat engine. of course, today's plants could be converted to LFTRs but it would be uneconomical and really wouldn't do justice to the reast of the features on your list....

needless to say, Thorium fuel alone does not make a given reactor inherently safer, it's how you use it and bullet point style PR answers will only serve one purpose: disappointment when Thorium fuel is used in a direct substitute, which would inevitably tarnish its new found reputation along with any hopes of actually getting the thermal breeder reactor design anywhere. read www.abovetopsecret.com... if you wish, i addressed this before as you can imagine.



not all is lost, however, there's still China:

www.abovetopsecret.com...

===================================================


Originally posted by Wolf321
Are there nations who do not have nuclear weapons, but have nuclear power plants? If so, are they thorium plants?


India is the only country betting the house on Thorium, but they chose solid fuel and will therefore need a fast spectrum to avoid fission product poisoning (loss of neutrons to FPs due to reduced capture cross sections), which open the whole can of worms of high fissile inventory ($$$$$ - very rare) problematic coolant and control issues due to shorter time constants.

as you can guess from the description, they do it because they don't have much in terms of known Uranium mines themselves while the West is busy boycotting them while coddling Pakistan, go figure.
edit on 2011.10.9 by Long Lance because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 05:08 PM
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Nuclear should be more of an emergancy backup generator rather than a full time thing. If its not 100% safe then its not safe, is it?



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 05:27 PM
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I think this piece of trivia is amazing:

thorium is 3 times more abundant than tin. And there has always been a lot of tin to go around since start of civilization...

Just for that, it deserves a serious look.



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 01:41 PM
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Originally posted by Biigs
Nuclear should be more of an emergancy backup generator rather than a full time thing. If its not 100% safe then its not safe, is it?


if it isn't safe, you cannot build it, a nuclear plant is hardly safe just because it's on standby, it would help with decay heat of course, but there are many more failure modes, obviously. The cost of a NPP is incurred when built, the fuel doesn't cost much, today's water based reprocessing costs some more and deep repositories are typically bottomless pits but the new fuel is quite cheap, so you'll have to run it as much as possible and rather look for a load balancing cogeneration facility, like synfuels. even if they were uneconomical if produced exclusively, they might just fatten your revenue a little when used for load balancing while eliminating most of the detrimental cycling stress.



Originally posted by buddhasystem
I think this piece of trivia is amazing:

thorium is 3 times more abundant than tin. And there has always been a lot of tin to go around since start of civilization...

Just for that, it deserves a serious look.


nucleargreen.blogspot.com...

Uranium is present in seawater at saturation levels.... which makes Uranium fuel available at abundant quantities at several times today's cost. since raw fuel cost is negligible today, a nuclear fuel supply crisis is very unlikely - which of course cannot be said of spent fuel disposal. Thorium's nuclear properties are more important (India excepted).



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 02:47 PM
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Originally posted by Long Lance
Uranium is present in seawater at saturation levels.... which makes Uranium fuel available at abundant quantities at several times today's cost.


Uranium requires enrichment to be used as fuel, Thorium does not. Uranium enrichment is a nasty process, as I'm sure you know, whereas Thorium can be just extracted from ore in mineral form, turned into oxide and put to use. You are likely right about economics of it all, but only because isotope separation was a research topic that received absolutely astonishing amounts of funding during the arms race. Hence, enrichment became feasible and less expensive for nations who possess the technology.

Also, with Thorium you are not left with the 238 (but that has been said many times in this and other threads).

It's kinda funny that nobody bothered to mine thorium in earnest, because there are no steady volume buyers in the market.



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