On 17 November 2013 07:44, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 4:19 PM, Russell Standish
> > For all the arguments pro and con nuclear fission, including an
>> impassioned speech by a 16 year old last night to a UN Youth Voice
>> competition, what never seems to be discussed is the elephant in the
>> room of how much uranium resources we have.IIUC, if all fossil fuel
> power plants were replaced by conventional fission reactors, we'd burn
>> through our uranium supplies in about 50 years flat.
> I don't know where you got that figure, I suspect that long ago in a
> galaxy far far away some tree hugger pulled it out of his ass and then
> repeated it so often on the internet that people started treating it as
> fact. At any rate if we're running out it's hard to figure out why today
> Uranium prices are the lowest they've been in 8 years.
> > So fission reactors do not solve the problem. Of course there is fast
>> breeder technology, but everbody is so shit scared about all the plutonium
>> that would then appear on the market, making it incredibly easy for rogue
>> states to construct nuclear weapons
> Uranium fast breeder scare the shit out of me too and for the same reason,
> I don't like Plutonium. But I do like Thorium reactors, in particular
> Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR) . I think LFTR's are what fusion
> wanted to be but never achieved, despite tens of billions of dollars poured
> into it a fusion reactor has never produced one watt more power than was
> put into it. Certainly LFTR's are better than conventional nuclear fission.
> Consider the advantages:
> *Thorium is much more common than Uranium, almost twice as common as Tin
> in fact. And Thorium is easier to extract from its ore than Uranium.
> *A Thorium reactor burns up all the Thorium in it, 100%, so at current
> usage that element could supply our energy needs for many billions of
> years; A conventional light water reactor only burns .7% of the Uranium in
> it. We'll run out of Thorium in the Earth's crust about the same time that
> the sun will run out of Hydrogen.
> * To burn the remaining 99.3% of Uranium you'd have to use a exotic fast
> neutron breeder reactor, Thorium reactors use slow neutrons and so are
> inherently more stable because you have much more time to react if
> something goes wrong. Also breeders produce massive amounts of Plutonium
> which is a bad thing if you're worried about people making bombs. Thorium
> produces an insignificant amount of Plutonium.
> * Thorium does produce Uranium 233 and theoretically you could make a bomb
> out of that, but it would be contaminated with Uranium 232 which is a
> powerful gamma ray emitter which would make it suicidal to work with unless
> extraordinary precautions were taken, and even then the unexploded bomb
> would be so radioactive it would give away its presents if you tried to
> hide it, destroy its electronic firing circuits and degrade its chemical
> explosives. For these reasons even after 70 years no nation has a Uranium
> 233 bomb in its weapons inventory.
> *A Thorium reactor only produces about 1% as much waste as a conventional
> reactor and the stuff it does make is not as nasty, after about 5 years 87%
> of it would be safe and the remaining 13% in 300 years; a conventional
> reactor would take 100,000 years.
> *A Thorium reactor has an inherent safety feature, the fuel is in liquid
> form (Thorium dissolved in un-corrosive molten Fluoride salts) so if for
> whatever reason things get too hot the liquid expands and so the fuel gets
> less dense and the reaction slows down.
> *There is yet another fail safe device. At the bottom of the reactor is
> something called a "freeze plug", fans blow on it to freeze it solid, if
> things get too hot the plug melts and the liquid drains out into a holding
> tank and the reaction stops; also if all electronic controls die due to a
> loss of electrical power the fans will stop the plug will melt and the
> reaction will stop.
> *Thorium reactors work at much higher temperatures than conventional
> reactors so you have better energy efficiency; in fact they are so hot the
> waste heat could be used to desalinate sea water or generate hydrogen fuel
> from water.
> * Although the liquid Fluoride salt is very hot it is not under pressure
> so that makes the plumbing of the thing much easier, and even if you did
> get a leak it would not be the utter disaster it would be in a conventional
> reactor; that is also why the containment building in common light water
> reactors need to be so much larger than the reactor itself. With Thorium
> nothing is under pressure and there is no danger of a disastrous phase
> change so the expensive containment building can be made much more compact.
> John K Clark
I believe another plus point is that they can't go supercritical and melt
down. Unless I have been misinformed, it's impossible to have a "China
syndrome" (or Madrid syndrome in NZ :-) with a thorium reactor.
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