Thorium-based nuclear power?

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by zenMachine, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    http://www.forbes.com/sites/william...gest-energy-breakthrough-since-fire-possibly/

    "What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium."
     
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  2. amm0bob

    amm0bob Permanently Junior...

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    I mentioned this a few years ago in here Bra...

    I don't think most care for nuke power in here...

    Personally, I think it is a superior design because of the fail-safes, which are not able to be built into the designs we currently use for nuclear fueled high pressure steam delivery....
     
  3. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    From what I understand in theory Thorium sounds terrific, but there are huge problems in making the technology commercially viable.

    It is too bad that nuclear has taken such a hit after the tsunami - you combine an extreme natural disaster along with a vulnerable location and an old design and got a horrific outcome.
     
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  4. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Actually, the Fukushima disaster could cause the power industries and governments to take a more serious look at Thorium. A few years ago there was little incentive for them to invest in such alternatives.

    China and Europe are already getting in the game. Will the US be playing catch up again?
     
  5. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    That's what should happen, but it is possible that public backlash will once again remove nuclear from the list of options.

    Tom
     
  6. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    If we do nothing we will also lose. Looks like China will have the last laugh after all.
     
  7. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Exactly. People seem to forget that inaction has consequences. We are all afraid of bad consequences from bad actions, but often the consequences of inaction are even worse.

    Tom
     
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  8. skruse

    skruse Senior Member

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    Using nuclear power (fission) to produce electricity is like using a chainsaw to cut butter, it is overkill, expensive and makes a mess. Conservation and efficiency come first, then "new" power sources, first fusion (the sun), then others as appropriate - geothermal, wind, small hydro. We (France and others) have not solved the radioactive waste problem.

    The Precautionary Principle states that we act prudently and think and act long term.
     
  9. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    See the bold print.

    Thorium is a potential future contributor, just like many others, but everybody needs to bear in mind that it hasn't yet been developed for commercial use and that the ultimate target is 1 billion years of energy needs for a developed world. Even deuterium fusion wouldn't meet that need.

    There isn't a magic bullet (or mushroom) yet.
     
  10. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    It's what we do now.:eek:
     
  11. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Which is exactly why thorium is being considered. It addresses most of the issues you raise.

    Tom
     
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  12. tonyrenier

    tonyrenier I grew up, but it's still red!

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    Many, many years ago, before Grad. School I spent a number of years selling industrial pipe, valves and fittings. This was in the 70s and Nuclear Reactors were still being built.
    My memory is fuzzy but I recall that the "Fast Breeder Reactor" made a lot of sense in most ways you're bringing up. I lost track of those things with the moratorium and eventually moving on the the Mental Health Profession.
     
  13. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    The French have done work in this area. In this country we were always too scared about the potential of material being used for weapons. The breeder system requires enrichment and reprocessing, which makes weapons much easier.

    Tom
     
  14. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    Thorium research was abandoned in the US in the 50's because thorium is so difficult to weaponize. that's the word on the street anyways. The US has large reserves of the stuff. It should be on the table. It's better than coal....
     
  15. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    How has this been applied to coal?
    Residents within 50 miles of a coal plant receive a higher annual radiation dose than those within 50 miles of a nuke plant.
    Is it possible to sequester any of the mercury burning coal has dumped into the environment?

    Renewables are the goal, but it is way off before they can meet all demand and replace existing coal and nuke plants. Most nuke supporters, here at least, aren't calling for it instead of wind, solar, etc., but instead of coal.
     
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  16. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    And ... if we DO ever switch over to Thorium, it should take us a few hundred years of use, before we reach, "Peak Thorium". That'll hopefully be long enough for our great great great (times ten) grand children to harness the ultimate source of power ... Mr. Fusion.

    [​IMG]


    .
     
  17. MontyTheEngineer

    MontyTheEngineer New Member

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    A few hundred years is all that the engineers involved in sustainable energy shoot for, anyway. 7 generations is the standard measure of "sustainable energy" vs. "non-sustainable." Coal could just barely make that cutoff depending on how we use it.

    Stopping the burning of oil and coal would be great for the environment, but, well... it just ain't gonna happen. We will use every drop of oil we can get, and after that we will use every pound of coal we can dig up. Renewables and near-term new technologies won't replace fossil fuels, just help us stretch out the reserves we have and buy ourselves time to get another generation of power supplies ready to go when the last well runs dry and the last mine shuts down.
     
  18. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    That would be a shame, because it would drown coastal areas where a billion people live and wreck what are now some of the most productive agricultural areas. Do we not have the brains to prevent this?
     
  19. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    France has cut the problem down quite a bit by reprocessing spent rods.

    Conservation is nice, nuclear is nice, both is better. If you honestly think that you can reduce the world's power consumption by simply changing lightbulbs and running your AC higher, you are naive. People should be conserving, but conserving only works to reduce consumption if everybody was already consuming. Whole networks of people are coming online to power connectivity and the gadgets that electricity brings with it now. It is a much smarter move to make the new energy needs met by a good source like nuclear then do nothing and have more coal plants pop up across the world.
     
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  20. rpatterman

    rpatterman Thinking Progressive

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    The biggest problem with nuclear energy from a business point of view is there is no other industry that can turn a billion dollar asset into a ten billion dollar liability in just two minutes.
     
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