Renting U-233 to Interested Nations

I had an idea today–since U-233 represents something like a “catalyst” for the prolonged consumption of thorium in a LFTR, and since a LFTR can be built that has a unity conversion ratio (makes as much U-233 as it consumes), then perhaps a nation that developed a large supply of U-233 could “rent” it to nations that want to start LFTRs but lack the ability to get or make U-233.

In a similar manner to the nuclear waste fund (1/10th of a penny per kilowatt*hour) the nation that “rents” U-233 to another nation could levy a rental fee on the electrical energy produced with “their” U-233. That way, a small country like Singapore could build or buy LFTRs and operate them, and the nation like the US that “rents” the U-233 could gain from the operation. At the end of the rental period, the agreement would stipulate that the U-233 be “returned” or accounted for. For a unity-conversion LFTR, this should work.

The US has 1000 kg of U-233. Unfortunately, it’s still bent on destroying this precious resource. In the scenario I outlined at TEAC2 and a few days ago in a blog post, we will use LFTRs and chloride reactors to destroy HEU and plutonium and make lots of U-233 for more LFTRs. This scenario might provide other uses for U-233 outside of the United States.

5 thoughts on “Renting U-233 to Interested Nations

  1. Interesting Kirk. But if say, the U.S. makes their investment back from "renting" the U-233 for some time period, why would we want it returned? Accounted for – for security purposes – ?

  2. I regret that it appears to me that a more likely scenario for the future is that the US in its hubris and blindness destroys by blending down the little amount of U-233 it was able to make in the first two pioneering decades of the nuclear era. The country "renting U-233" will be India and they will rent U-233 back to our children who will be struggling to catch up with the rest of the world after squandering their national resources on renewable energy concepts that never panned out and do not allow them to compete with their Asian industrial competition.
    (I am secretly hoping Kirk's relative optimism turns out to be closer our collective futures).

  3. Well Keith, the renting nation could keep "renewing the lease" so long as the material was accounted for. It also gives them a legal right to the material.

    Bob, I admit that India is the most likely nation to have the U-233 to actually make this scenario happen, but I am hoping that the United States will change its policy and recognize the value of the material.

  4. India has a PFBR under construction which will produce U-233 which can be used for return of loan if and when asked for. It also has a design of AHWR ready but waiting for selection of site but probably also awaiting availability of U-233 in required quantity.
    India also has fast reactor capability and could design a fast Th-U233 breeder reactor if sufficient fissile material is available. Currently the stress is on maximising fissile material for fast and thorium reactors but could focus on thorium if U-233 is given as a "Project Loan"

  5. Excellent.There should be a will and trust. of course there should be acccountability. India with its impeccable non proliferation record, in the light of the recent nuclear agreement and its capable thorium technologies can be the host nation For U-233 for the LFTRs.

    In fact a I made a similar suggestions and an appeal after hearing th lecture of Dr.Michael May ( Earlier director of Us weapons production center at livermore), on Plutonium options. The theme was what to do with about 1000t of dclared Pu that is being maintained safely, incurring high costs to the Government, all these years. The situation remains the same even now.
    This was in 1993. I suggested this can be burned in Indian reactors and give more power to India while taking back the money worth by the US through its business and corporate circles that was literally starving for the venues at that time. Dr May ave me a good hearing and observed that this is a policy matter.

    Now can we consider such co-operation for the progress of the humanity in general. It is time wisdom should prevail of course backed by trust.

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