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[Telegraph] Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.

China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor systemâ€. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik momentâ€, you could say.
Quote:
“The reactor has an amazing safety feature,†said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. “If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,†he said.

“They operate at atmospheric pressure so you don’t have the sort of hydrogen explosions we’ve seen in Japan. One of these reactors would have come through the tsunami just fine. There would have been no radiation release.â€
Quote:
The earth’s crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country’s next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.
Just a note: many CANDU reactor designs are capable of using Thorium for fuel. I have no idea why we aren't.

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post #2 of 43
The reason why is because of uranium enrichment programs by the US during the Cold War. They required nuke material, and commissioned uranium plants to get it.

(Not that a nuclear plant has fissionable material in it, just that it gets it ready for processing or something like that)
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post #3 of 43
way to go china!
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post #4 of 43
Quote:
The half-life of thorium-232 is about 14.05 billion years
:O :O :O Is that accurate?
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen00 View Post
The reason why is because of uranium enrichment programs by the US during the Cold War. They required nuke material, and commissioned uranium plants to get it.

(Not that a nuclear plant has fissionable material in it, just that it gets it ready for processing or something like that)
What I mean is that as far as I know, we have something like 20 reactors in Canada that are capable of using Thorium for fuel without modification, because of superior Canadian engineering. There is obviously information that I don't know, but I don't know if it's political information (i.e. regulatory nonsense), economic information (i.e. someone with a lot of money stands to lose a lot of money if we stop buying or producing uranium), or technical information (i.e. the reactors would actually require refitting to use thorium).
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post #6 of 43
I believe that its that the plants will need refitting if we're going to use them for Thorium right now. Americans are lazy that way.
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post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen00 View Post
I believe that its that the plants will need refitting if we're going to use them for Thorium right now. Americans are lazy that way.
Actually I bet Americans would be all for it! Sadly the politicians and businessmen in charge are not.
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post #8 of 43
there seems to be something that prevents us from using it. This article has left out some scientific facts perhaps?
    
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post #9 of 43
Nice find thats pretty cool.
And I agree which aren't our plants going for Thorium.
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post #10 of 43
Wired has a recent article on this topic as well: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...er/#more-49899
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