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Is thorium the answer to our energy crisis?
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Aurora



Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:35 pm    Post subject: Is thorium the answer to our energy crisis? Reply with quote

The following article was published in The Independent in 2006.

Quote:
The Independent - 13/12/2006

It could power the planet for thousands of years, the reactors would never blow up and the waste is relatively clean. So is thorium the nuclear fuel of the future?

Article continues ...

Has there been any further R&D carried out on this technology?

Is a thorium reactor viable?

What are the pro's and con's?
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Aurora



Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The Telegraph - 20/03/11

A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium.

Article continues ...

My original question still stands. Is a thorium based reactor a viable proposition? Is it truly a safer technology?
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Cabrone



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope so.

This might help.

Thorium Thread
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Aurora



Joined: 24 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cabrone wrote:
I hope so.

This might help.

Thorium Thread

Thanks Cabrone. Very Happy Is that all we know about Thorium?
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RenewableCandy



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a pretty picture with some basic gen about Thorium reactors. Doesn't tell you much about how feasible it is, mind.
http://www.rmg-clarity.co.uk/storage/Final-Thorium%20Infographic.png?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1300702297995
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Aurora



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
Here's a pretty picture with some basic gen about Thorium reactors. Doesn't tell you much about how feasible it is, mind.
http://www.rmg-clarity.co.uk/storage/Final-Thorium%20Infographic.png?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1300702297995

Smile Thanks RC.

Boy, did that take a while to load. Reminded me of the 'old' dial-up days. Very Happy
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the reasons why we don't have thorium power stations is that they haven't actually been invented yet. There's an article in this week's New Scientist about them. A couple of quotes:

Quote:
"We have to first prove it's possible to handle that"
That's the extremely corrosive liquid lithium fluoride salt the thorium has to be dissolved in.
Quote:
The aim of the study, which will run until November 2013, is to lay the groundwork needed before an LFTR can be designed.

and
Quote:
"Our dream is to build a demonstrator"


Just don't hold your breath till a thorium reactor comes the a place near you.
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Mean Mr Mustard



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
One of the reasons why we don't have thorium power stations is that they haven't actually been invented yet.


Just in case anyone actually missed The Daily Mash all-time classic Summary of Our Energy Predicament:

Quote:
"For the moment let's stick to what used to be known universally as 'the facts' until it was decided that everything was just an opinion.

"Fact one. Fossil fuels are running out and as they do so they will get more and more expensive resulting in violent conflicts. You will not believe how true that sentence is going to continue to be.

"Fact two. Nuclear power stations explode. They do, I just saw one.

"That leaves us with either renewable energy or stuff that hasn't been invented yet and it's really difficult to charge your stupid ******* phone with stuff that hasn't been invented yet.

"Go on. Try."


Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/science-%26-technology/nuclear-disasters-not-just-caused-by-communism-201103143623/
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
One of the reasons why we don't have thorium power stations is that they haven't actually been invented yet. There's an article in this week's New Scientist about them.


The Americans ran an experimental thorium reactor for four years in the early sixties, but they closed it because compared to the uranium fuel cycle it's excessively resource and time intensive, and hence more expensive to operate.

The Indians are trying to develop one because they've got large thorium reserves; likewise the Chinese because thorium is a waste product from rare earths processing, althouh their going down the particle accelerator route.

However, the issue is that because it requires more steps to make it work, the EROEI is lower than the uranium fuel cycle. So, even though there's a much larger reserve of thorium, overall you have to wonder (and wonder it is as I've heard of no one doing the lifecycle assessment) whether we'd actually get any more usable energy back from the process compared to other options.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

New Scientist wrote:
The difficulty with fluoride salts, though, is that they are highly corrosive, so special materials are needed to contain them. An experimental molten salt reactor that ran from 1965 to 1969 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee used a corrosion-resistent nickel-molybdenum alloy called Hastelloy N as a container material. But even this had degraded by the end of the project.

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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The difficulty with fluoride salts, though, is that they are highly corrosive
Sh!t and I've been brushing my teeth with them for decades! No wonder they look a bit naff Smile
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An Inspector Calls
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's claimed that the CANDU reactor can burn thorium (and much else). It also runs on un-enriched fuel. Fred Hoyle was advocating these back in the 70s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor
http://www.iaea.org/inisnkm/nkm/aws/fnss/abstracts/abst_te_1319_4.html

There is now an advanced CANDU design:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_CANDU_Reactor

I'm not sure if the advanced design can handle thorium.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fred Hoyle had lots of ideas. Some proved he was a genius. Others that were bonkers.

I'd trust Candy rather than Candu.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How quaint.

"The neutron economy of heavy water moderation and precise control of on-line refueling allow CANDU to use a great range of fuels other than enriched uranium, e.g. natural uranium, reprocessed uranium, THORIUM, plutonium, and used LWR fuel. Given the expense of enrichment, this can make fuel much cheaper."
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More Thorium stuff from some people who seem to know what they're talking about. http://www.nnl.co.uk/assets/_files/documents/jan_11/nex__1294397524_Thorium_Fuel_Cycle_-_Position_.pdf
but they wrote:
It is estimated that it is likely to take 10 to 15
years of concerted R&D effort and investment
before the Thorium fuel cycle could be established
in current reactors and much longer for any
future reactor systems

So it's that timing thang once again.
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