8 results for month: 07/2006


Radon from Thorium? I don't think so…

Deseret News: 'No thanks' to uranium waste plansOne of the fears about the waste from FMRI Inc. is over thorium, found naturally in the earth's crust and contained in the waste from Oklahoma. As thorium decays, it produces the radioactive gas radon. The concern about radon is that it could cause lung cancer in humans.The radon isotope produced in the decay of thorium-232 is radon-220. It has a half-life of 55 seconds. Which means that in 1-2 minutes this gas has to leave the ore it came from, drift into your lungs, and decay into polonium-216. Possible? Perhaps if you're snorting thorium ore. Likely? Not even remotely.Uranium-238, on the other ...

New Visualization Tool for Decay Chains

The last few days I have been working on a new Java tool to help visualize fission product decay chains. Specifically, I want to help people learn quickly how many fission product decay chains decay to stable isotopes in very short order, so you can see that fission product waste isn't radioactive forever.OK, I think the first version is ready to go:Launch Fission Product Decay Chain SimulationBasically what you will see when the simulation comes up is a graph of the radioactive isotopes produced by fission, arranged vertically by what element they are, and horizontally by their atomic mass.When a nucleus fissions, it produces two fission products. ...

Nuclear Cross-Sections and what you can learn from them

I've often found myself trying to find a good source of microscopic cross-sections for nuclear isotopes, and today I found a nice source:Nuclear Information ServiceOn here, I found the thermal cross-sections I've been looking for that would allow me to compare the behavior of protactinium and uranium in the blanket salts to thorium. Here are the thermal (2200 m/s) cross-sections for several blanket isotopes, with units in barns: TOTAL ELASTIC FISSION CAPTURE half-lifeLi-7 1.015 0.97 - 0.045 stableBe-9 6.1586 6.1510 - 0.0076 stableF-19 3.643 3.652 - 0.0096 stableTh-230 32.32 9.774 ...

Health and Safety Aspects of Thorium Production

Some people have asked about the issues and potential dangers of thorium, especially relative to uranium. I have extracted this section from an AEC book published on thorium in the late 1950s. To sum it up, thorium, like other heavy metals, is toxic in the body. It is radioactive but with an exceptionally long half-life of 14 billion years, which means individual thorium-232 nuclei decay at an incredibly slow rate. Nevertheless, once a Th-232 nuclei decays, it proceeds through its decay chain relatively quickly, arriving at its final stable form of lead-208 with a minimum of long-lived intermediate nuclei.So don't eat thorium, don't breathe ...

How to Throw Away Eight Years Worth of Electricity

Here is a recent article I found that talks about the disposition of 3200 tonnes of thorium that was in the US stockpile. The thorium from Curtis Bay alone (2700 tonnes) would produce all the electricity the US needs for eight years, if used in a liquid-fluoride reactor. My own comments are in paretheses and italics.Curtis Bay Thorium Nitrate Now in NevadaBy John ReindersDefense National Stockpile CenterPublic Affairs OfficeThe Defense National Stockpile Center’s thorium nitrate disposition project achieved a significant milestone in May when the last shipment of the radioactive material departed the Curtis Bay Depot. All material from the Curtis ...

"Independence Day" and how to get there

As we approach the fourth of July and reflect on the declaration of America's independence 230 years ago, it is not hard to see the shackles of dependence in many parts of our country. We are addicted to foreign oil, Chinese consumer goods, Japanese cars (which I love!), inexpensive Mexican labor, and foreign investors who underwrite our national debt at low interest rates.In turn, these dependencies alter our course of action as a nation. I remember reading recently how Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that one of her biggest surprises of her new job was how much the need for foreign energy interferes with diplomatic activities. In other ...

Swedes say yes to nuclear, no to Green Party Coalitions

As the realities of Kyoto emissions targets and the need for reliable energy continue to sink in, we will probably see more of this in Europe.Centre dumps nuclear dealBut I certainly don't want to see more of this:For Europe, a Green Self-Image Clashes With a Reliance on CoalI find it rather disturbing that the "acceptable" alternative to nuclear is coal, and that these coal plants are "exempted" from the Kyoto restrictions.I wish we had some thorium-fueled, municipal power submarines to sell them, rather than have them build these filthy coal plants.

Indian Interest in Fluoride Reactors?

I have found some old documents from the early 1970s that seem to indicate that Indian nuclear scientists were working with ORNL personnel on liquid-fluoride reactors. What initiated this interest or ultimately terminated it I do not know. Perhaps someone who knows more about the Indian nuclear program might offer some insight into what is in these documents.NP-18955NP-18956NP-19145NP-19207NP-19254Considering the Indian reserves of thorium, it would not be hard to understand why they might be interested in a reactor that could fully consume them. What perplexes me in the documents is their focus on starting the fluoride reactors with plutonium, ...