New type of fuel???


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Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : New type of fuel???

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Message 1314949 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 0:18:46 UTC

Safe and more of it...

MUCH harder to weaponize, if at all.

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Message 1314998 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 4:39:41 UTC - in response to Message 1314949.

Not a new fuel, Thorium reactors have been used before, three in the USA at, Peach Bottom 1967-74, Fort St Vrain HTR in Colorado, USA 1976-89 and Shippingport 1977-1982.

One also ran in Germany 1983-1989, and some Indian reactors have used Thorium.

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Message 1315018 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 6:40:52 UTC

It is still a fission reaction that provides the heat that turns water into steam and drives a turbine to create electricity. Like Winterknight stated it is not a new idea or fuel and it shows little to no advantage over materials already in use to power fission reactors. It still generates waste that has to be disposed of in the same way existing reactors do. It works for Norway as they have large deposits of Thorium to exploit.
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Message 1315087 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 13:14:15 UTC - in response to Message 1315018.

Thorium is not fissile but fertile, like U238. It must to be bombarded with neutrons to produce U233, fissile, which does not exist in nature. This can be done with a particle accelerator producing neutrons, and this is called an accelerator driven reactor. Carlo Rubbia called it a power amplifier, since the power produced by the reactor was to be greater than the one used to drive the accelerator.
I am not aware of Norway having Thorium deposits. India has many of them.
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Message 1315097 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 13:38:44 UTC

There seems to be more Thorium in nature then Plutonium or Uranium.

You can't make a bomb out of it either. So all them nations that want reactors but we would rather not see them with fissionable stuff could use this in it's place.

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Message 1315125 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 15:42:34 UTC - in response to Message 1315097.

Yes, but U233 is fissile and can be used to make bombs. The US Gov has a stockpile of U233 and is burying it in Nevada to avoid thefts by terrorists.
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Message 1315144 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 16:45:16 UTC

Critical Mass/Chain reaction cannot be achieved with Thorium. Dirty bomb--yes.

However, the argument that Iran and other tin pot dictators have about the USA and others that we have no wish to work with them on this matter is NOW out the window.

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Message 1315148 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 16:59:38 UTC - in response to Message 1315144.

In order to start a chain reaction you must have some fissile material, be it U235, U233 or Pu239. Natural uranium, that found in mines, has a 0.7% of U235 and can be used in reactors moderated with heavy water, lik the Canadian CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) or the Italian prototype CIRENE which was built but never started because of a referendum. Light water reactors have a fuel which contains from 3% to 5% of U235 and enrichment is made in gaseous diffusion plants using centrifuges. If you repeat the process of enrichment you get bomb grade material and that is what Iran is probably doing. There is also a laser induced enrichment process developed in the USA and this is another headache.
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Message 1315163 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 17:46:01 UTC

And we seem to be talking past each other...

Plutonium is found within Thorium. However, JUST trace amounts. We could give them tons and tons of it and they could not produce enough of it to make a bomb with Thorium.

Thorium is also MUCH more safe as a product in a reactor and a run away reaction is MUCH less likely. It can be stopped very quickly. No China Syndrome...

War and diplomacy depends on giving your opponent--no quarter.

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Message 1315172 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 18:12:29 UTC - in response to Message 1315163.

Thorium is not fissile and cannot sustain a chain reaction unless it is transformed in U233 by bombarding it with neutrons coming from a chain reaction started in another fissile element like U235, or produced by an accelerator. This second option is safer since if you shut down the accelerator the chain reaction stops.
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Message 1315178 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 18:26:44 UTC

So you can stack a pile of Thorium by itself in a chamber and virtually nothing productive will happen. It needs to be bombarded with one of it's elementary cousins to become a useful fuel. Therefore somewhere in the mix fissile material is needed. Other than being more plentiful than uranium and plutonium it still has the negative properties most all of us have grown to fear.

I personally have no problems with the building a use of nuclear reactors as long as they are designed and built to be as safe as humanly possible.
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Message 1315198 - Posted: 14 Dec 2012, 18:55:16 UTC - in response to Message 1315178.

The Thorium cycle was studied in Italy but the fuel elements made with Thorium had to be sent to the USA to be irradiated with highly enriched U235 which Italy could not possess and then sent back. The whole thing was so costly that it was abandoned.
Tullio
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Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : New type of fuel???

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