Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: May 23, 2009 8:56 pm 
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This was so incredibly interesting I just had to post it. I wish I had the chemistry background to actually go do it!

Carl Willis: Uranium Chemistry

Quote:
* Part I: Collecting uranium ore
* Part II: Crushing, milling; acid leaching
* Part III: Ammonia precipitation and carbonate extraction
* Part IV: Producing uranyl peroxide yellowcake
* Part V: Uranyl oxide (UO3); U3O8; uranyl salts
* Part VI: Producing uranium dioxide (UO2) by electrolysis
* Part VII: Producing uranium tetrafluoride (UF4)
* Part VIII: Odd stuff: “Sodium peruranate”
* Part IX: Producing uranium metal


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PostPosted: May 23, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Looking up the site of this Mi Vida mine, I wonder if it isn't something I might try to go visit the next time I'm in Utah. My sister and her family love to go to Moab and go hiking and climbing there, why not add some uranium prospecting?


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PostPosted: May 24, 2009 7:55 am 
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Good stuff Kirk !

We just need to expand that UF4 production sequence a bit, to include some UF3.... Make a nice UF4-UF3 eutectic mix.... Get some D2O, drill a few graphite electrodes.... and we're in business :lol:

Seriously though, a good first step would be to run a non-nuclear test loop at full operating temperature (electrically heated), etc., etc.


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PostPosted: Jul 17, 2009 12:45 am 
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jaro wrote:
We just need to expand that UF4 production sequence a bit, to include some UF3.... Make a nice UF4-UF3 eutectic mix.... Get some D2O, drill a few graphite electrodes.... and we're in business :lol:

FYI - from Carl: Hello,

UF3 is a known intermediate / contaminant in the "thermite" reduction of UF4 by active metals such as I have conducted with calcium as shown on my blog.

UF3 would be favored against U metal as an end product by the use of lower temperatures in the reaction. I see from Google that hydrogen and aluminum have historically been reductants for making UF3 from UF4 and that the favorable temperatures lie below about 1100 K. Needless to say, I don't have much experience with these kinds of reactions beyond the calcium reaction I have used to get the metal.

It is also possible that UF3 could be precipitated from electrolytically generated solutions of U(III) ions or that UF4 could be partially reduced by electrolysis in a low-temp molten salt bath. There is a lot of uncharted territory in the chemistry of uranium. Finding a simple, aqueous, electrochemical route to UF3 from something more common is a real possibility.

Best regards
Carl


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PostPosted: Jul 17, 2009 10:00 am 
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That reminded me of the good ole days in High School Chemistry...


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PostPosted: Jul 17, 2009 10:26 am 
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cld12pk2go wrote:
That reminded me of the good ole days in High School Chemistry...


I'd have paid much better attention in high school chemistry if the teacher had taken us to southern Utah, let us gather up rocks, and taught us how to extract uranium. I might have gone directly into nuclear engineering rather than aerospace engineering. All I knew about nuclear back in high school was light-water reactors, and they didn't interest me much.

If someone would have taught me that there's millions of years worth of energy 200 miles north of where I lived in the Lemhi Pass, and if someone would have taught me that researchers 30 years ago figured out how to make it work, my whole professional career might have gone a different direction.

Then again, I'd probably be working for a national lab or a nuclear utility now and not be able to say boo about thorium, so maybe everything worked out the way it was supposed to.


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PostPosted: Jul 18, 2009 9:51 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Then again, I'd probably be working for a national lab or a nuclear utility now and not be able to say boo about thorium, so maybe everything worked out the way it was supposed to.


National laboratory employment would not have hurt your ability in this regard (of course, it may depend on which National lab). 8)


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PostPosted: Oct 01, 2009 10:37 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Carl Willis: Uranium Chemistry


I wonder if a teenager could do something like this for a high school science fair project...


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PostPosted: Jul 19, 2010 4:13 pm 
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I just wanted to bump this thread because Carl just joined the forum.


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PostPosted: Aug 22, 2010 5:13 pm 
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Maybe Carl can do the same for Thorium.

1. Go to the beach and get a bucket of Monazite Sand (placer deposit).
2. ... (follow Carls's process)


20. Kirk gives second talk at Google during which he extracts his own thorium from sand, and puts it a Desktop-LFTR he built for demonstration purposes.


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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2010 6:41 am 
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Unfortunately, the chemistry is very different.
You can leach out the uranium from the ore as uranates or uranyl salts. In case of Monazite, the rare earth plants leach out the rare earths and leave out thorium as waste. You have to proceed from this 'waste'.
You convert uranium to UF6 and go for isotope separation, however costly. To ignite thorium you have to 'borrow' fissile U235 from uranium or plutonium from SNF. Providing neutrons by an accelerator is an even bigger project.
The simplest way to proceed with uranium fuel is, as brought out by many participants in the discussions, is Putting it in reactor as fertile fuel feed , and let it get irradiated and burnt in situ. Starting off an LFTR with 20% LEU as fissile feed is a good way to proceed along these lines.
Another way brought out by Indian BARC and discussed in this forum, is blending 20% LEU with thorium for a high burn up fuel. They have suggested a denatured fuel from non-proliferation point of view, but thorium and the LEU could be in separate pins or bundles for separate reprocessing.


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PostPosted: Sep 07, 2010 6:59 pm 
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I realize it is different, just when I think about things I like to start from scratch, and the history. What minerals and organics are there and what you can do with them. A mental game.
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-fr ... 94649ED7CF
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/1407441.pdf
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/2993752.pdf
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/2816122.pdf
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20100067644.pdf

With this post I was thinking more about outreach since thorium seems to be getting better press in mainstream media and professional:
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/es903884a

As far as outreach technical people may like what has been produced so far, but may not be enough for mass media.

The talks on TED go in the direction of that most people can watch and enjoy:
http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_s ... _seen.html

Most important for Technical Outreach I think, is to follow the insights from this book which I read a few years ago:
http://www.dontbesuchascientist.com/
Read the synopsis and the four admonitions.

Maybe hire him to help produce, and have a fundraiser to pay for it.


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