VT Nuclear Education: Thorium Warnings

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By Jeff Smith, Science Editor

There have been recent discussions about thorium as a source of power or for use in weapons systems. I have some experience working with Thorium.

  1. Too costly to use, over 1 million dollars per kilogram to produce. It can only be artificially made like Plutonium and you cant make enough of it to keep up with demand if commercially used.
  2. Radiation safety issues. Too hot to use in standard glove boxes. More toxic.
  3. Used in fast breeder reactors only.
  4. If U-233 is mixed with U-232 it is unstable. Can go bang.
  5. Thorium reduces reactor thermal output by up to 30 % so it is to inefficient for commercial thermal power reactor use as compared with a standard uranium fed light water thermal reactor.
  6. Thorium breads too much U-232/233 causing a toxic waste problem.
  7. U-233 if is used in a reactor it can undergo a positive K fast neutron reaction so it can go bang like Chernobyl did. So you don’t want to use.

The moral of the story; if it worked better everybody would be using it.

Thorium

Uranium 233 by Gordon Duff

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