VT Nuclear Education: Thorium and Nuclear Fission

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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 by Gordon Duff

Uranium 233 by Gordon Duff

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. When there was a talk of the much hyped US nuclear deal with India during the era of President George W. Bush, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; there was a controversy going on whether the Uranium powered reactors were worthwhile and a lot of pros and cons was going on regarding the deal in India. At that time, Prof. Abul Kalam, who was the President of India as well as being the top scientist, suggested Thorium reactors would be better for India, for one thing, the half-life of Thorium was 12 1/2 years, and India had enough Thorium, so there was no need for Uranium reactors. This article was inn the editorial column of the “Asian Age ” newspaper in Mumbai (Bombay). I don’t know what to believe.

  2. I read earlier here on VT that Thorium coatings allowed the Apollo missions to navigate the Van Allen Belt radiation on their trip to the Moon. Yea, OK

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