Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Mar 31, 2014 12:16 am 
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Thorium has a couple of genuine problems.
1. It is difficult to get it into liquid form. ThCl4 has a low boiling points but 35Cl, three-fourths of natural has neutronic problems. 37Cl may be useful. ThF4 has a high melting point and low solubility in salts.
2. Natural thorium lacks a fissile component.
On positive side, it can be converted to 233U, a fissile superior to the natural 235U, 0.7% of natural uranium or Pu239. Higher availability of thorium is overshadowed by huge amounts of equivalent fertile 238U in depleted uranium or used fuel. Physical properties of thorium or oxide are also better.


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PostPosted: Mar 31, 2014 11:22 am 
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A recurring tactic that I have noticed amongst the anti-thorium crowd is to use information that is valid only for thorium in solid fuel. Even in discussions that are explicitly considering molten salt fuel designs, the limitations of the solid fuel is used. The pro-thorium crowd should always be sure to emphasize the use of thorium in a molten salt reactor and call out opponents who, either ignorantly or deliberately, conflate information that is specific to solid thorium fuel. (Note: I know thorium is fertile not fissile, but in the end it is thorium that is the source fuel that is consumed).

We can debate/discuss which salts are best, or which neutron spectrum(s), or conversion ratios, or how many fluids, or Rankine versus Brayton cycles, but the key is that a molten salt reactor is what brings about thorium's full potential - I consider them a matched set.


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PostPosted: Mar 31, 2014 1:51 pm 
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@jagdish
Sure, but they're not discussing the actual technical problems. They're bringing out tired old arguments practically refuted a thousand times.

Just the other day, I again had the pleasure of being called an industry shill for pointing out that according to the track record, conventional nuclear fission reactors kill by far the least[edit/fixed] number of people by watt-hour. I'm about to go back to that thread, to continue talking to the wall.


Last edited by Joshua Maurice on Apr 02, 2014 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mar 31, 2014 8:06 pm 
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Joshua Maurice wrote:
Just the other day, I again had the pleasure of being called an industry shill for pointing out that according to the track record, conventional nuclear fission reactors kill by far the last number of people by watt-hour.

According to a study in The Lancet, natural gas kills causes 38 times more deaths per terawatt-hour than nuclear. Don't even ask about coal; it's too horrifying.

How many people are we going to kill because of mythical dangers?


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PostPosted: Apr 01, 2014 2:29 am 
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Laurence Aurbach wrote:
According to a study in The Lancet, natural gas kills causes 38 times more deaths per terawatt-hour than nuclear. Don't even ask about coal; it's too horrifying.


How I wish I could grab figure 3 (the left half would be sufficient) and put it in my energy slide deck. It sums up the situation quite well.


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PostPosted: Apr 01, 2014 11:16 am 
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Russ wrote:
How I wish I could grab figure 3 (the left half would be sufficient) and put it in my energy slide deck. It sums up the situation quite well.

That's doable. The image is attached with labels added. Note that the fatality numbers include cancer deaths resulting from nuclear accidents.


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PostPosted: Apr 01, 2014 5:15 pm 
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Laurence Aurbach wrote:
The image is attached with labels added. Note that the fatality numbers include cancer deaths resulting from nuclear accidents.

Can you call CO2 emissions a health effect? I'd rename the graph just Effects of Electricity Generation.


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PostPosted: Apr 01, 2014 6:10 pm 
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Gilliam wrote:
Can you call CO2 emissions a health effect? I'd rename the graph just Effects of Electricity Generation.

The label is the authors' caption. The x-axis is deaths per terawatt-hour. About CO2, the authors write:
Quote:
The health costs of increased greenhouse-gas emissions are difficult to estimate and are controversial. A WHO study has estimated that the increase in greenhouse gases since 1990 has resulted in around 150,000 excess deaths in 2000. Almost all of these deaths took place in countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, where increased risk factors for malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria, floods, and cardiovascular disease are attributed to climate change.

The authors also speculate about the health impacts of CO2 capture and storage. In summary, CO2 health impacts are controversial and uncertain. Therefore the authors do not include CO2 in their calculation of illnesses and deaths from electricity generation.

If you don't like the 2-axis chart with CO2, you might want to make a bar chart using just the x-axis, with or without uncertainty ranges.


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PostPosted: Apr 01, 2014 11:09 pm 
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Laurence Aurbach wrote:
If you don't like the 2-axis chart with CO2, you might want to make a bar chart using just the x-axis, with or without uncertainty ranges.


I could quibble about the format, but when blown up to full size the plot is very readable, and the data itself is very impressive. It should be presented to every German with the following questions: "How do you feel now about shutting down perfectly good nuclear power plants and building new coal-fired power plants? Do you feel like a moron? You should."


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PostPosted: Apr 02, 2014 1:58 am 
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Laurence Aurbach wrote:
Russ wrote:
How I wish I could grab figure 3 (the left half would be sufficient) and put it in my energy slide deck. It sums up the situation quite well.

That's doable. The image is attached with labels added. Note that the fatality numbers include cancer deaths resulting from nuclear accidents.


I didn't even notice initially that this plot has a slightly offset origin. That means that the nuclear death rate and CO2 emission rate is even less than the plot makes it appear at first glance. I guess they used the offset origin because the nuclear point would be too close to the origin and hard to see otherwise, but unfortunately it has the effect of making nuclear appear not quite as good as it really is -- but that's still darn good!


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PostPosted: Apr 03, 2014 9:15 pm 
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The hard core lobbying and propaganda efforts of people like Greenpeace have immense negative consequences. For example, we have known about the CO2 problem for some time and we also know coal plants put out lots of CO2, neurotoxins and radioactive waste, as well as fly ash -- people die due to coal plants. We also know the renewables cannot provide the earth's needed energy upon any reasonable time table, environmental impact, or financial cost basis. As I always say, "eVs are not what we need, we need MeVs."

So naïve folks push wind, biomass, and solar, which cannot, by any feasible way, supply the world's needed energy. Intermittent, weak sources force more reliable sources and dispatchable backup and load following. The result of such misguided zeal is ironically something they do not like and obviously do not understand -- but the fact is the world's fastest growing large source of energy today is Coal. Good job boys, you are fine examples of anti-green advocates. Is there any wonder there are many ex-Greenpeace members.

But even knowing this does not stop them from opposing a cleaner and safer nuclear option like LFTRs. No, they are still going full bore against what must ultimately prevail. They oppose all nuclear including as yet implemented Gen IV designs, it must be a genetic trait, because it is not logical, unless a name change is in the works, "Fossil-Lockers."


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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 2:30 pm 
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Eino wrote:
I try to keep a balanced perspective. I've been looking at this Thorium thing for a few months now. I'm still trying to find it's Achille's heel. Here's a quote from an article I found:

"Nuclear enthusiasts have been singing the praises of nuclear reactors that use thorium as their fuel instead of uranium. Jan Beránek analyses the claims - and finds that thorium is a mere distraction on the way to our renewable future."

Here's the article:

Exposing the thorium myth by Jan Beránek, 26th March 2014

What features of this article are valid? What are actual valid criticisms of using Thorium as a fuel? I figure the people on this sight [sic] may be able to give me a clear picture of what the real problems are to its use.

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PostPosted: Jul 24, 2016 9:20 pm 
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Good chart. Do you still need the domed containment building with a liquid Thorium reactor? I don't think so.

What is the estimated mass of that 17%? Will it be .17 tons? (I will not deal in slugs) - 340 lbs When you are dealing with this super dense stuff, it can't be a very big volume.

Looking at that chart, one really has to wonder why these things aren't being built. It would be promoting the general welfare of the nation (& the world). Per the chart a Thorium power plant would have almost the same size turbine generator, but all of the Balance of Plant (BOP) components could be greatly shrunk. This is an enormous savings in capital cost that I've never understood before.


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PostPosted: Jul 25, 2016 6:16 am 
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Nuclear reactor capital costs seems to have little relation to the actual quantity of material in the plant.


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PostPosted: Jul 26, 2016 10:12 am 
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Hmm, in case this wasn't mentioned earlier:
The Ecologist wrote:
"And given that all over the world, U-238 / Pu-239 fast breeder reactors have proved to be technical and economic disasters, do we really want to bet the farm on making them work with thorium?"

Why in the world would we want to? Thorium breeds with a thermal spectrum. That has already been demonstrated. If we are dumb, we will do it with a solid oxide fuel. Less dumb, a solid metal fuel. Smart, a liquid fuel.

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