Skip to comments.Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke
Posted on 04/18/2010 12:55:27 PM PDT by Titus-Maximus
The thick hardbound volume was sitting on a shelf in a colleagues office when Kirk Sorensen spotted it. A rookie NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Sorensen was researching nuclear-powered propulsion, and the books title Fluid Fuel Reactors jumped out at him. He picked it up and thumbed through it. Hours later, he was still reading, enchanted by the ideas but struggling with the arcane writing. I took it home that night, but I didnt understand all the nuclear terminology, Sorensen says. He pored over it in the coming months, ultimately deciding that he held in his hands the key to the worlds energy future.
Published in 1958 under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission as part of its Atoms for Peace program, Fluid Fuel Reactors is a book only an engineer could love: a dense, 978-page account of research conducted at Oak Ridge National Lab, most of it under former director Alvin Weinberg. What caught Sorensens eye was the description of Weinbergs experiments producing nuclear power with an element called thorium.
At the time, in 2000, Sorensen was just 25, engaged to be married and thrilled to be employed at his first serious job as a real aerospace engineer. A devout Mormon with a linebackers build and a marines crew cut, Sorensen made an unlikely iconoclast. But the book inspired him to pursue an intense study of nuclear energy over the next few years, during which he became convinced that thorium could solve the nuclear power industrys most intractable problems. After it has been used as fuel for power plants, the element leaves behind minuscule amounts of waste. And that waste needs to be stored for only a few hundred years, not a few hundred thousand like other nuclear byproducts.
(Excerpt) Read more at geni.org ...
It is cheaper than uranium, does not make U239 and plutonium (i.e. no weapons), no runaway meltdowns, and the waste lasts hundreds of years and not thousands. The reactors will be cheaper and smarter. The world would have gone with thorium if it weren't for weapons development from uranium.
China and India will pick up and run with the thorium industry while America wastes valuable time and resources on wind and solar which creates more CO2 than it prevents and is useless for a 24/7/365 economy.
Can we get back to useful productive science, rather than using junk science to make up false problems about global warming and then making up more fantasy about solving it with wind and solar! Al Gore is running a ponzi-scheme-circle-jerk and decrying Co2 in the most arrogant way possible. If people actually believed that Co2 will kill us - and we have not yet started to build nukes than somebody in charge ought to get arrested. (No one truly believes that Co2 is killing us, that's why this is a stepped down hurry, a jogging speed, not a sprint.)
Do you know how abundant Thorium is? Where is it primarily produced?
Truman’s Atoms for Peace project was a proliferation scam from Day 1 anyway.
And back to weapons, we need the Neutron Bomb.
Thorium wiki page:
Now, where did you get your Nuclear Engineering degree?
while America wastes valuable time and resources on wind and solar.
While America allows these crooks to dictate and strangle America!
Worthwhile evaluating - though I am very, very skeptical of ANY energy idea supported by Harry Reid. (2008, with Hatch, was sponsoring a Thorium program....)
India a building a Th reactor, with intentions to make 5 more once the first goes on line in 2011-2012 timeframe.
http://www.thoriumenergy.com/ We have the largest supply, and it might be best if the US stays interested in the Moon and the space program.
STP Units 3 & 4 Move Forward with EPC Agreement
Wadsworth, Texas Feb. 25, 2009 STP Nuclear Operating Company, Nuclear Innovation North America LLC (NINA)*, CPS Energy and Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corp. (TANE) have signed and executed the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement for proposed STP Units 3 & 4.
TANE will provide engineering and development services on a time and materials basis until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issues a license for Units 3 & 4. Once the federal license is granted, the EPC agreement will become lump-sum and turnkey, with performance and schedule guarantees.
This is another significant accomplishment in making the new units a reality, said Kevin Richards, Group Vice President, STP Units 3 & 4. The execution of the EPC agreement concludes lengthy and detailed negotiations on virtually all aspects of the project. We continue to make substantial progress in licensing and constructing the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in nearly three decades.
The agreement follows the NRCs announcement on Feb. 11 of a review schedule for STPs license application to build and operate the units. Based on the NRCs schedule, the license likely will be granted in 2012.
NINA and CPS Energy each currently have a 50-percent share in the proposed plant expansion. NINA has announced that additional investors will be sought, with the expectation that NINA and CPS Energy will have 40 percent each and a new partner will have a 20 percent share. NRG Energy last week said that 15 parties have expressed interest in buying the minority share.
STP supplies approximately 7.5 percent of the electricity used in Texas. The plant is managed by the STP Nuclear Operating Company and owned by Austin Energy, CPS Energy and NRG Texas. STP’s twin reactors produce 2,700 megawatts of carbon-free energy, powering more than two million homes and businesses throughout Texas. To learn more about STP, visit www.stpnoc.com.
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2 Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1 FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company ML062290261 Aug. 2010
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Unit 1 and Unit 2 Exelon Generation Company, LLC ML091210103 Sept. 2011
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2 Un-named Exelon Generation Company, LLC ML091210103 July 2015
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Article is very very suspect.
Article states that Rickover (Father of Nuclear Power for Navy) was against thorium
FACT - Bettis Labs (which is the Navy lab that helped develop nuclear power for the Navy) - helped commercialize nuclear power (Shippingport PA reactor). Later - Bettis developed a Light water breeder reactor core for Shippingport - using seed material of Uranium and a blanket material of Thorium. So much of the initial work on the Thorium cycle was accomplished under the auspices of H.G.Rickover!
What the article fails to clarify is that Thorium can’t be used in a reactor by itself. It must be converted to U233 by breeding. After breeding - if the Thorium were to be in rods containing only Thorium (not mixed oxide with U235 and U238) - the converted U233 could be separated out from the unconverted Thorium and made into bomb material.
The article is correct in that fission products from U233, which came from Thorium has more preferential decay products than fission products from U235. But if we reprocessed our spent fuel - neither would be much of a problem.
(My Nuclear Engineering expertise comes from Navy Nuclear Power Training, and working in civilian nuclear power industry.)
Great post. Thanks.
What about Thulium and Thalium?
Your post is spot on. Additional, there were fuel fabrication and neutron economy issues. Going uranium had nothing to do with the bomb program but everything about the navy nuclear program.
or these guys?
Not even remotely useful for energy production.
His latest entry talks about the history of nuclear energy policy. He shows how decisions made during and just after WW II have gotten us to where we are now.
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