Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Dec 25, 2015 5:50 am 

Joined: Feb 28, 2011 10:10 am
Posts: 355
FYI, the SAMOFAR consortium has now its own website (with publications, et cetera):

PostPosted: Dec 26, 2015 6:10 am 

Joined: Apr 19, 2008 1:06 am
Posts: 2251
HolgerNarrog wrote:
The use of Thorium as nuclear fuel is promoted since the 60ies by various sources.

The serious reason that it is not used till today is that 232U (created from 233U by n->2n reaction) emits a very hard and difficult to protect Gamma radiation during decay. Handling and reprocessing of used fuel is by far more difficult than uranium - plutonium fuel and not possible in the existing plants.

In Germany we had 2 HTR pebble bed reactors originally designed for the use of thorium - uranium fuel. They were run with uranium - plutonium fuel. They did ask for example my father (regulatory authority) to permit the reprocessing of thorium - uranium fuel in the reprocessing pilot plant in Karlsruhe. He had to deny as this plant was equipped with glove boxes suitable for uranium - plutonium fuel with its soft gamma Radiation Thorium - uranium fuel requires remote controlled processes.

As uranium - plutonium fuel works well the costs for uranium are low there is actually no benefit in using Thorium - uranium fuel. This might change in the following decades when a generation of very intelligent radiation resistant robots will take over the handling of used fuel, repair and maintenance work in nuclear facilities.

Thorium vs uranium inevitably comes up. I joined this forum as a thorium enthusiast and am now better educated. some important truths in the matter are:-
There is a lot of uranium-238 stored around as used fuel and depleted uranium. If a closed breeder cycle is developed, It can go a long way even without thorium. It can be done in fast reactors. molten salt or solid fueled.
Once started on external fissile, enriched uranium or plutonium, thorium can also be used in a self-sustaining breeder cycle. It could be fast or thermal, liquid or solid fueled.
Once created in adequate quantities, U-233 is a better fissile fuel than either U-235 or Pu-239. Wasteful uranium absorption of neutrons resulting in non-fissile isotopes is much less.
Thorium/U-233 is not essential but very desirable.

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