Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Apr 10, 2014 6:56 pm 
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Economist: Asgard's Fire (thorium)

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But by 2017 the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics expects to have one that uses a trickier but better fuel, molten thorium fluoride.

Thorium itself is not fissile. If bombarded by neutrons, though, it turns into an isotope of uranium, 233U, which is. Thorium can thus be burned in a conventional reactor along with enriched uranium or plutonium to provide the necessary neutrons. But a better way is to turn the element into its fluoride, mix that with fluorides of beryllium and lithium to bring its melting-point down from 1,110ºC to a more tractable 360ºC, and melt the mixture. The resulting liquid can be pumped into a specially designed reactor core, where fission raises its temperature to 700ºC or so. It then moves on to a heat exchanger, to transfer its newly acquired heat to a gas (usually carbon dioxide or helium) which is employed to drive turbines that generate electricity. That done, the now-cooled fluoride mixture returns to the core to be recharged with heat.

This is roughly how America’s experimental thorium reactor, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, worked in the 1960s. Its modern incarnation is known as an LFTR (liquid-fluoride thorium reactor).


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PostPosted: Apr 10, 2014 8:20 pm 
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Nice to see that accurate information is getting out there.


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PostPosted: Apr 10, 2014 8:48 pm 
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An excellent article on the state of thorium energy research. It's nice to see someone talk about nuclear energy without scaremongering of meltdowns, radioactive waste, and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I didn't realize how much research was going into thorium solid fueled reactors. While I believe MSRs is a great goal to attain for the next decade or three I believe that thorium as a solid fuel in conventional solid fuel water cooled reactors might make for a good transition technology. Let people get used to the idea of thorium as a fuel. Train people on the properties of thorium in real world applications. Create a market for thorium. After that happens then MSRs become a much easier sell to the public and government bureaucrats.

If Russia keeps pushing the political envelope then we are going to see some real changes in views on thorium from the US government and its allies. I can see something straight out of a Clancy novel happening soon, some sort of war in Europe causing oil shortages worldwide. If that happens then thorium will look real attractive.

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Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2014 8:04 pm 
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While there can be no objection to the current line of research on thorium as nuclear fuel, the burning of thorium in situ after irradiating it will increase the energy production from existing uranium use.
http://dae.nic.in/writereaddata/.pdf_38
If thorium is so used in separate pins/bundles, it could also be a source of fissile feed of 233U in mainly thorium fueled reactors when developed. It is a pity that this is not being preferred to U-Pu MOX.


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PostPosted: Apr 20, 2014 9:37 am 
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Finally got my Economist issue in the mail with this article on page 78.


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2014 1:17 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Finally got my Economist issue in the mail with this article on page 78.


On Page 78, but its been the most shared article on their website since it went up.


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