21 results for month: 03/2008


The Thorium Fuel Cycle, Its Neutron Economy

WASH-1097 remains a good source of information on the thorium fuel cycle. In fact, some major recent studies of the thorium fuel cycle rely heavily on WASH-1097.Sometimes, however, sources on thorium may draw indirectly on WASH-1097, without mentioning it in their bibliography. Although a recent IAEA report on Thorium appears to have been prepared without overt reliance on WASH-1097.Because it is widely referenced and continues to be an important source of information, I will rely on WASH-1097 for most of the information found is this account.One of the first things physicists discovered about chain reactions was that slowing the neutrons involved ...

Thorium Fuel Cycle Advantages

Introduction: This Russian paper, translated by the IAEA nicely lays out some of the advantages of the thorium fuel cycle. From: STATUS OF NUCLEAR DATA FOR THE THORIUM FUEL CYCLE by B.D. Kuz’minov, and V.N. Manokhin Russian Federation State Science Centre, Institute of Physics and Power Engineering, Obninsk Adoption of the thorium fuel cycle would offer the following advantages: - Increased nuclear fuel resources thanks to the production of 233U from 232Th; - Significant reduction in demand for the enriched isotope 235U;- Very low (compared with the uranium-plutonium fuel cycle) production of long-lived radiotoxic wastes, including transuraniums, ...

The Uranium Fuel Cycle

WASH-1097 remains an invaluable source of information on the thorium fuel cycle. It explains why the thorium fuel cycle creates such a small problem with transuranium isotope. First, however, it is important to understand why there is a problem in the uranium fuel cycle.When U238 absorbs a neutron a transformation process is triggered. After a couple of sub-nuclear events (beta radiation), the two neutrons in the atom become protons. This process turns the uranium-239 atom into plutonium-239. Pu239 is fissile. But Pu239 has some characteristics that make it something less than a desirable fuel, in ordinary reactors. Fission is most likely to ...

Liquid Sodium Reactors

Once when I was in junior school the school I attended offered a science demonstration in assembly. The whole idea was absurd, because many of our parents were scientists, and the demonstrator was a science teacher, who was far less versed in real science than my father. The demonstrator showed us a few tricks with chemistry, but the highlight of the show came when he chucked a small piece of carefully stored sodium metal into a container filled with water. The sodium bounced on the surface of the water as it burned strongly, illustrating that water - or for that matter air - does not mix well with sodium. Had the demonstrator chucked a larger ...

Storm van Leeuwen

Comment: anonymous said...Aside from your usual dose of ad-hominem fallacies, do you have specific information about van Leeuwen's alleged errors?My Response: I would not classify my argument as ad-hominem. I did not argue that Storm van Leeuwen was wrong because of the facts I laud out, rather I argued that his background did not qualify him to be an authority on nuclear power. The fallacy is the assumption that Storm van Leeuwen is an authority without carefully examining criticisms of SvL's work.If you are interested in Storm van Leeuwen's errors I can provide you with some discussions. David Bradish discusses some "Storm-Smith" math errors ...

David Fleming and Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen

David Fleming argues in his booklet, "The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy: A Life-Cycle in Trouble," that the era of nuclear energy is over.Fleming argues that "The world’s endowment of uranium ore is now so depleted that thenuclear industry will never, from its own resources, be able to generate the energy it needs to clear up its own backlog of waste." I have previously demonstrated in Nuclear Green that it is not the case that we have exhausted the world's uranium resources, and indeed given current technology, it is possible to extract abundant amounts of uranium for a period of time that would extend many tens of thousands of years into the ...

Breeders or Converters?

"the Sure Way, (though most about,) to make Gold, is to know the Causes of the Severall Natures before rehearsed, and the Axiomes concerning the same. For if a man can make a Metall, that hath all these Properties, Let men dispute, whether it be Gold, or no?" - Frances BaconI recently stumbled across an internet discussion of the idea of transforming thorium 232 into uranium 233 in a reactor. The term breeding was used, and this lead to confusion. Someone mentioned plutonium. There is a natural linguistic association between the term "breeder reactor" and the word "plutonium". The word "breeder" is "breeder reactor" is used metaphorically. What ...

Interview with Ralph Moir: Part I

(Posted by Charles Barton, cross posted on Nuclear Green)Introduction: I wrote Dr, Ralph Moir last week, seeking an email interview. Dr. Moir was an extremely distinguished scientist at Lawrence-Livermore Laboratory, and a personal associate of Dr. Edward Teller. Dr. Moir was extremely gracious in answering all of my questions. I have split the three pasts of the interview into three separate posts. The first questions address Dr. Moir's work with fission/fusion hybrid reactors.On Mar 13, 2008, at 9:49 AM, Charles Barton wrote:Dear Dr. Moir, There are numerous questions I would like to ask you. This would be of course contingent on your willingness to ...

Interview with Ralph Moir: Part II

(Posted by Charles Barton, cross posted on Nuclear Green)1. Can you tell us why you shifted your interest from fission/fusion hybrids to more conventional Molten Salt Reactors?My job at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory involved studying and designing fusion/fission hybrid reactors. I led the effort of many terrific researchers including those at other labs: ORNL, ANL, INL, PPPL and industries: Westinghouse, GE, GA, Bechtel. During this time I became increasingly more familiar with all the fission reactor concepts. My favorite technology for fuel production was the use of molten salt pumped through the blanket surrounding the fusion reactor.My ...

Interview with Ralph Moir: Part III

(Posted by Charles Barton, cross posted on Nuclear Green)Questions on Edward Teller1. Edward Teller remained a controversial figure at the time of his death. Since you worked with Teller, what do you think the public should know, in order to better understand him?He was brilliant, multi-dimensional and focused. He promoted action via the political process that gave him fame and infamy but most importantly gave results. His writing and that written about him tells the story. It is most inspiring and I recommend its reading to anyone interested.2. My own understanding of Teller was that he was a complex person. Can you give us some insights?Yes he was ...