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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
*puts on flame suit*


Thorium Reactor? Too good to be true?

Opinions?
 

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OK my 2 cents worth

First generation reactors -MAGNOX
Used "natural uranium" - (not enriched) in a graphite core
Natural uranium is almost all 238 only a tiny bit of 235


Second generation - PWR
Uses enriched uranium (all of those centrifuges in Iran) in water
Positive feedback - as it gets hotter it generates more heat

Third Generation = AGR - Advanced Gas cooled Reactor
Uses enriched uranium and CO2 as a coolant
Negative feedback - as it gets hotter it generates less heat
They had lots of initial problems - CO2 and stainless steel react in funny ways at high temperature
No chance of the hydrogen (chemical) explosions that have happened in MAGNOX and PWR reactors

Fast Breeder Reactors
The other reactors use neutrons that are slowed by the moderator -
(slow neutrons are more effective in causing fission)
Fast breeders use un-slowed neutrons and need a lot of them
These can be used to turn stable uranium (238) into plutonium - which can be used in other reactors (or bombs)
These use liquid sodium as a coolant - no actual disasters but obvious risks

If fast breeders are used so we can use all of the uranium we have tonnes of the stuff
BUT that means transporting material for processing that could be made into bombs

Thorium
Lots more in the ground than uranium,
similar issues to fast breeder (slow breeder) - produces uranium 233 - which can be made into bombs
BUT its more difficult to extract the 233 than plutonium - needs lots of centrifuges
plutonium can be extracted chemically

Then there are the Fourth and Fifth generation reactors - lots of ideas, very little engineering experience -

Thorium reactors belong with these new ideas - they are talking about liquid thorium circulating in the reactor - the engineering issues are scary but doable
Not sure if the advantages over the fast breeder are signifigant
 

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No need for the flame suit yet! Thanks David, that was really interesting and 'appears' to be a better option. I noted that an obstacle it has against it is a juggernaut industry that "sells current nuclear plants" at less than cost to lock in the uranium supply chain which has about as much interest as the oil industry in changing business as usual. Best hope is for private industry or a country like India to develop it. Japan may now be more interested in safer options. We'll see.
 

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No need for the flame suit yet! Thanks David, that was really interesting and 'appears' to be a better option. I noted that an obstacle it has against it is a juggernaut industry that "sells current nuclear plants" at less than cost to lock in the uranium supply chain which has about as much interest as the oil industry in changing business as usual. Best hope is for private industry or a country like India to develop it. Japan may now be more interested in safer options. We'll see.
I would agree with Karlos . So interesting that this work was abounded , that engineering students have only minutes at best of exposure to this or if we had 10 PhD nuclear engineers they probably know less about this then we just watching 120 minutes . Ive seen this misdirection in education many times , sad . I still have to ask how much energy to refine the thorium and WMD . I use 2% thoriated tungsten tig electrodes , the grinding dust is considered nuclear waste .I wasn't to happy to learn that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Only reason I found out about this was Anthony Watts (climate skeptic blogger) posted an article about that a while ago. Supposedly the chinese recently announced plans to spend cubic amounts of money on the idea over the next 20 years.

http://cgi.ebay.ca/Thorium-Rod-Geig..._Security_Fire_Protection&hash=item3cb5dad68f

I did hear about the nuclear bomber before (documentary can be found on Utube), but wasn't aware that it was THAT unique a design.

Seems like a no brainer to me, but I wonder what the catch is.
 

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just looked at the link for thorium rod . that's what I use .exempt until you grind it . then you have a inhalation hazard . Pure tungsten is used ac welding aluminium and lanthanated is slowly replacing thoriated (hard to find and $$)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had heard of the bomber too, and a space ship they tested the engine at aerojet if i remember right . Catch is no one can control the thorium .
Can't control it in general, or just for the airborn engine?
 

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that engineering students have only minutes at best of exposure to this or if we had 10 PhD nuclear engineers they probably know less about this then we just watching 120 minutes .

Cobblers
When I took Unclear Engineering (as we called it) as an undergraduate thirty years ago we had a lot more than that.

The KIWI and NERVA nuclear rockets both used uranium dioxide in the reactors

Thorium is not used, it has to be changed to Uranium 233 to be fissioned - although that is proposed to be an ongoing process in the core.

If I had the money to invest I would go for a fast breeder uranium cycle - a thorium cycle may be better in a few decades but now uranium is too cheap and the engineering issues with a uranium cycle are much better understood
 

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that engineering students have only minutes at best of exposure to this or if we had 10 PhD nuclear engineers they probably know less about this then we just watching 120 minutes .

Cobblers
When I took Unclear Engineering (as we called it) as an undergraduate thirty years ago we had a lot more than that.

The KIWI and NERVA nuclear rockets both used uranium dioxide in the reactors

Thorium is not used, it has to be changed to Uranium 233 to be fissioned - although that is proposed to be an ongoing process in the core.

If I had the money to invest I would go for a fast breeder uranium cycle - a thorium cycle may be better in a few decades but now uranium is too cheap and the engineering issues with a uranium cycle are much better understood
"this" was in reference to the thorium system . Did you watch the video . my pick is a "fusion energy collector" some call them solar cells , in operation and expanding .
 

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I had heard of the bomber too, and a space ship they tested the engine at aerojet if i remember right . Catch is no one can control the thorium .
That is an ignorant statement. Of course they can control the thorium. Thorium does not fission.

They have to bombard it with a neutron to make uranium 233. U 233 works just like u235 in a reactor. When they pack thorium around a H bomb to get extra punch they can't control how much u233 is made. Perhaps that is where that came from?
 

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sorry , I meant the world supply . on the rocket engine I don't know what technology they were using , except it was nuclear.
They were going to use a molten salt reactor. because they could keep the weight down. I don't think they ever flew the nuclear plane. They built several models of this reactor in the late 60's and early 1970's. They call this now a LFTR or liquid fluoride thorium reactor (Lifter).

This is not a scary concept. If the Japanese reactor were this kind all they would have to do is ...nothing. The reactor has a drain plug of frozen salt( salt as in a fluoride salt). if the fuel coolant gets to hot this melts and drains into passively cooled tanks. it can not melt down and the salt does not vaporize. When the salt goes to a solid the radioactive elements are chemically held within the salt. The gases are processed and removed normally.

http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/

One of the guys on here calculated the lifetime cost of fuel using gasoline @ 3.00 was 300,000. compressed natural gas 100,000 the cost if you used thorium would be 20.00. Thorium is a waste product mining rare earths.
 

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That is an ignorant statement. Of course they can control the thorium. Thorium does not fission.

They have to bombard it with a neutron to make uranium 233. U 233 works just like u235 in a reactor. When they pack thorium around a H bomb to get extra punch they can't control how much u233 is made. Perhaps that is where that came from?
" ignorant statement" I concur, oh and of course you did miss my explanation of what control i was referring to .
 

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They were going to use a molten salt reactor. because they could keep the weight down. I don't think they ever flew the nuclear plane. They built several models of this reactor in the late 60's and early 1970's. They call this now a LFTR or liquid fluoride thorium reactor (Lifter).

This is not a scary concept. If the Japanese reactor were this kind all they would have to do is ...nothing. The reactor has a drain plug of frozen salt( salt as in a fluoride salt). if the fuel coolant gets to hot this melts and drains into passively cooled tanks. it can not melt down and the salt does not vaporize. When the salt goes to a solid the radioactive elements are chemically held within the salt. The gases are processed and removed normally.

http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/

One of the guys on here calculated the lifetime cost of fuel using gasoline @ 3.00 was 300,000. compressed natural gas 100,000 the cost if you used thorium would be 20.00. Thorium is a waste product mining rare earths.
talk about disruptive , isn't just lucky for big oil ,etc. that they forgot about this . I'll check your link .
 

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that engineering students have only minutes at best of exposure to this or if we had 10 PhD nuclear engineers they probably know less about this then we just watching 120 minutes .

Cobblers
When I took Unclear Engineering (as we called it) as an undergraduate thirty years ago we had a lot more than that.

The KIWI and NERVA nuclear rockets both used uranium dioxide in the reactors

Thorium is not used, it has to be changed to Uranium 233 to be fissioned - although that is proposed to be an ongoing process in the core.

If I had the money to invest I would go for a fast breeder uranium cycle - a thorium cycle may be better in a few decades but now uranium is too cheap and the engineering issues with a uranium cycle are much better understood
I totally missed" Unclear". lol. I wondered what number of hours gets devoted to courses in the nuclear engineering program directly about nuclear engineering . reason I ask I was looking into Aerospace engineering at Cal. Poly I was shocked by how little time was spent on aerospace engineering classes .
 

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Hi Aero

I wondered what number of hours gets devoted to courses in the nuclear engineering program directly about nuclear engineering

I think that depends where you start, if you are starting from scratch a lot of hours would be devoted to "engineering" - if it was a post grad course most of the hours would be on the nuclear bit

This was at a Scottish university where you are expected to do "humanities" on your own time - mostly in the pub!

I didn't go into the nuclear field because everything that you did was checked and re-checked then re-checked again
Most nuclear engineers end up spending their career checking others peoples work

On the other hand - would you have it any other way?

I was looking into Aerospace engineering at Cal. Poly I was shocked by how little time was spent on aerospace engineering classes

Was the time spent on the engineering basics like maths, thermo, materials, structures, fluids, ....
In which case its necessary

When I did engineering we had the longest work week and the heaviest loads of all the facilities

Those science guys got it easy! and as for the arts students!!!!

On another subject - Why videos - its painful watching somebody talk at 70 words/minute when reading speed is 300 - 1500 words/minute
 

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I may have missed how many hours were spent in these few classes . math ,thermo , etc are important of course . My buddy said they used calculus to knock out 90% of his engineering class . Another buddy was tacking calculus at the city college and was required to memorize paragraph long formulas . He asked what possible use the teacher said I had to do it so do you . I think he dropped out .
 
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