Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Oct 03, 2014 10:43 am 
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Fab's link has more good stuff. One thing is the other heavy elements that end up in the absorbent. The absorbent quite likes Mg, Ca, and Na which is expected on their abundance in sea water. But vanadium really stands out. For every kg of uranium absorbed there's almost 4 kg of vanadium. Vanadium is quite valuable, around $25/kg today. Though it is too bad the vanadium competes for the same absorption capacity as the uranium, selling the vanadium would help bring this concept closer to economic viability. The current economic value of the vanadium would be higher than the value of the uranium in the absorbent!


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PostPosted: Jan 10, 2015 8:04 pm 
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In one of the other threads the subject of the uranium supply came up. I mentioned I had read something a while back by James Hopf that I thought was excellent. I went and found it. It's 10 years old, but I think it's still worth reading, if you want a realistic appraisal. It's not specifically about U from seawater, but I thought I would put it here.

He's written about this topic later, in other places as well. I once read (may have been him again) that there are 30 years of proven reserves of copper left, and that has been true for over 100 years.

http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/uranium.aspx


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 11:34 am 
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SteveK9 wrote:
In one of the other threads the subject of the uranium supply came up. I mentioned I had read something a while back by James Hopf that I thought was excellent. I went and found it. It's 10 years old, but I think it's still worth reading, if you want a realistic appraisal. It's not specifically about U from seawater, but I thought I would put it here.

He's written about this topic later, in other places as well. I once read (may have been him again) that there are 30 years of proven reserves of copper left, and that has been true for over 100 years.

http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/uranium.aspx


Thanks. This refers to the Deffeyes work that shows uranium is normally distrubuted in the crust as is expected. Based on this work there is about a trillion tonnes of high EROEI (ie >10) available. Trillion, with a T. 10e12 metric tonnes. 1,000,000,000,000 tonnes.

One of the best sites for this is the nuclearinfo.net site. Here is the page on that site that shows the uranium distribution and source for 1 trillion ton estimate.

http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/Ura ... stribution

Still seawater may win out, for a number of reasons. One, the sea flows of its own, unlike rock that you have to get, move and crush. This means its not just a ppm comparison. Two, seawater extraction uses membrane technology that has a good learning curve - it can get cheaper and better. Rock mining is not going to get much cheaper though ISL is a major innovation of course, that is a process that is simple chemistry that isn't going to get much better or cheaper than it is today. Third reason has to do with acceptance. Uranium mines have a bad rep, whereas fabrics suspended in the middle of nowhere in the ocean do not and will likely not get a bad rep. It is out of sight, out of mind, and does not leave toxins and such in the actual "mine" site itself (the polymers used are inert in seawater).


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 12:37 pm 
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This forum is about a thorium breeder. With a fast spectrum reactor, a uranium breeder is easier. Used fuel and depleted uranium are strewn about the world from already mined uranium. Fast uranium breeders are working in Russia, nearing completion in India and being planned in China. With a change of the secondary coolant, they will get much safer. In a decade or two' uranium may not be required and the Waste Stocks may provide all the nuclear power required. If the thorium breeders are developed, the Waste thorium from the rare earth mines may be the energy source. Once you develop fast MSR for burning the used fuel Waste, the uranium from sea water may become an exotic idea only for scientific research.


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 1:17 pm 
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jagdish wrote:
This forum is about a thorium breeder. With a fast spectrum reactor, a uranium breeder is easier. Used fuel and depleted uranium are strewn about the world from already mined uranium. Fast uranium breeders are working in Russia, nearing completion in India and being planned in China. With a change of the secondary coolant, they will get much safer. In a decade or two' uranium may not be required and the Waste Stocks may provide all the nuclear power required. If the thorium breeders are developed, the Waste thorium from the rare earth mines may be the energy source. Once you develop fast MSR for burning the used fuel Waste, the uranium from sea water may become an exotic idea only for scientific research.


And once you develop sea water extraction, fast breeders become pointless. You can argue this both ways. For the moment we should be glad there are more paths to success other than "we must develop fast reactors".


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 5:28 pm 
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When you look at the current nuclear industry in Europe and USA, the only big flaw is that the uranium is imported, so the industry does not contribute to the energy independence.

If seawater uranium and low ores deposit can really supply the european and american reactors at not too high cost it would be great.


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 6:22 pm 
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fab wrote:
When you look at the current nuclear industry in Europe and USA, the only big flaw is that the uranium is imported, so the industry does not contribute to the energy independence.

If seawater uranium and low ores deposit can really supply the european and american reactors at not too high cost it would be great.


Given the context of the OP, that doesn't matter. Whatever the supply mechanism, it has an eroi. If that includes some convoluted supply chain, take it as it is.


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PostPosted: Jan 19, 2015 7:38 pm 
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fab wrote:
When you look at the current nuclear industry in Europe and USA, the only big flaw is that the uranium is imported, so the industry does not contribute to the energy independence.

If seawater uranium and low ores deposit can really supply the european and american reactors at not too high cost it would be great.

On the other hand, the problem is really the stocks of used fuel. No one has a permanent repository yet. Use of fast reactors would take as much fuel from the waste as the new fuel produced and get you more decades to dispose off the used fuel.
The fast reactors are already there and only the scare of sodium fires is what stands in the way. A safer secondary coolant will solve the problem. Some countries are proceeding regardless.


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PostPosted: Jan 21, 2015 5:55 am 
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fab wrote:
When you look at the current nuclear industry in Europe and USA, the only big flaw is that the uranium is imported, so the industry does not contribute to the energy independence.

If seawater uranium and low ores deposit can really supply the european and american reactors at not too high cost it would be great.


Energy independence is a lot harder than the popular buzz phrases. Is it actually possible to be truely energy autonomous?

There are other materials needed for nuclear reactors. In my country we do not have iron mines, chromium mines, or nickel mines. We'd have to import materials of construction, including cladding materials which are just as important as the fuel itself. Even if we go for sea water extraction, where will the absorbent come from? Where will the material to make the absorbent come from? Somewhere along the line there's going to be an import.

No country is an island.


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PostPosted: Jan 21, 2015 6:55 am 
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100 % energy independence is not possible but if we can diminish the reliance on critical materials it is really a good thing in my point of view and will improve the case for nuclear energy. I guess we can recycle a lot of material with an higher price. With Thorcon for example I guess it is possible to reuse the vessels several times no ? And it is surely possible to recycle the materials used in the vessels and heat exchangers with a financial disadvantage but a advantage in waste and PR. My point of view is to make the power plants the most durable possible and recycle the replaceable parts ( like heat exchangers ...) if it is possible. 100 % recycling is not possible but it is maybe possible to greatly decrease the imports and not be totally reliant to just severals countries like for oil (and uranium currently) for example. At least if some big countries like USA, China and India can really decrease the dependence on imported materials, it would be good for the nuclear sector in these countries, so it will be good for nuclear in general.


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PostPosted: Jan 21, 2015 7:07 am 
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Yes, Thorcon concept also has a central recycling plant.

But that's not the point. The point is you have a lot of critical materials needed to build and operate a nuclear plant. Having thousands of tonnes of uranium fuel in a warehouse is no good if you have no cladding material. Still can't operate the plant. Even sub components that have to be replaced, like control electronics, are critical to the plant in the sense that if you can't get these you can't run the plant. So if you have special semiconductors that are needed to make control electrics for the plant and those conductors come from a foreign country then its not energy independence.

Same thing with solar panels and batteries that are made in another country.

Perhaps it is a bit of an old fashioned notion. I like to eat exotic fruit and drink South American coffee. Should we try and grow everything ourselves? Then we need greenhouses - LEDs, loads of energy, glass, aluminium. If any of those materials comes from abroad then that defeats the point of the whole excercise.

But it seems reasonable to try to not be dependent on a single or a few countries for critical supplies. With uranium that does not appear to be the case. Stuff is everywhere.


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PostPosted: Jan 21, 2015 2:42 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
Energy independence is a lot harder than the popular buzz phrases. Is it actually possible to be truely energy autonomous?

There are other materials needed for nuclear reactors. In my country we do not have iron mines, chromium mines, or nickel mines. We'd have to import materials of construction, including cladding materials which are just as important as the fuel itself. ...

No country is an island.
There is a BIG difference between relying on someone out-of-country for the capital materials compared to relying on them for the O&M materials. The capital material needs are quite small in volume and infrequently needed and can be gotten when the getting is good. The O&M material must be gotten regularly which is subject to disruption. True, for nuclear plants the amounts are quite small and only needed on regular but INfrequent bases so nukes are not as problematic as coal or gas, but they are still subject to some degree of external disruption if externally derived.

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PostPosted: Jan 21, 2015 7:25 pm 
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Even if we were under some kind of trade blockade it is far easier to obtain a few kilogrammes of highly specialist electronics once every 60 years than it is to obtain vast tonnages of uranium oxide or fossil fuels.


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PostPosted: Jan 22, 2015 1:28 pm 
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E Ireland wrote:
... than it is to obtain vast tonnages of uranium oxide or fossil fuels.

Sorry, "vast tonnage" does not apply to UxOx. Heck, that you could smuggle in on a shimp boat every few months if TRULY needed.

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PostPosted: Jan 22, 2015 1:36 pm 
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A shrimp boat might suffice for UOx but electronics and things can fit on a tiny sailboat. Also easier to acquire electronics quietly than drums of uranium dioxide by the tens of tonnes a year.


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