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Thorium power (Read 14837 times)
Bobby.
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Thorium power
Feb 28th, 2018 at 11:14pm
 
Let's get the thread that I promised, started with a short video:



LFTRs in 5 minutes - Thorium Reactors



Ross Clements
Published on Mar 10, 2012
A short video of Kirk Sorensen taking us through the benefits of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, a revolutionary liquid reactor that runs not on uranium, but thorium. These work and have been built before. Search for either LFTRs or Molten Salt Reactors (MSR).

FAQ
The main downsides/negatives to the LFTR are technology, politics, corrosion and the general public being scared of nuclear radiation. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors were created 50 years ago by an American chap named Alvin Weinberg, but the American Government realised you can't weaponise the by-products and so they weren't interested.

Another point, yes it WAS corrosive, but these tests of this reactor were 50 years ago, our technology has definitely improved since then so a leap to create this reactor shouldn't be too hard.

And nuclear fear is extremely common in the average person, rather irrational though it may be. More people have died from fossil fuels and even hydroelectric power than nuclear power.

No, it would not collapse the economy (yes, people actually ask this question)... just like the use of uranium reactors didn't... neither did coal... This is because you wouldn't have an instant transition from coal... oil... everything else to thorium. We could not do that. Simply due to the engineering. Give it 50 years we might be using thorium instead of coal/oil (too late in terms of global warming, but that's another debate completely), but we certainly won't destroy the earth's economy. Duh.

And yes he said we'd never run out. Not strictly true... bloody sceptics ... LFTRs can harness 3.5 million Kwh per Kg of thorium! 70 times greater than uranium, 10,000 greater than oil... and there is over 2.6 million tonnes of it on earth...  Anyone with a calculator, or a brain, will understand that is a lot of energy!!

Any more questions I will try and answer.
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #1 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 1:11am
 
If it's that good and easy why hasn't private enterprise already commercialized it?

Perhaps Australians are not up to the technology and will require Homer Simpson training.

I can just imagine denizens Gnads and Yadda running a reactor and denizen Gordon shoveling the spent fuel.

We will have to wait until China or India perfects and sells us the technology and the Thorium.

Quote:
Up and coming nuclear reactor powerhouses China and India both have substantial reserves of Thorium-bearing minerals and not as much Uranium. So, expect this energy source to become a big deal in the not-too-distant future…
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #2 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 1:18am
 
Don't thank Trump! The poms have urinated on your parade Bobby.

They have poo-pooed Thorium.

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Re: Thorium power
Reply #3 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 4:48am
 
dear Unforgiven,
I suggest you watch the entire video.
It actually promotes Thorium.

forgiven

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Re: Thorium power
Reply #4 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:00am
 




Thorium Summary - "Th" Documentary


gordonmcdowell
Published on Jul 29, 2013
http://patreon.com/thorium Dissolving thorium into molten salts allows more efficient conversion into energy than today's uranium oxide fuel rods.

The amount of waste generated, the amount of energy generated, and the expanded versatility of this new "Molten Salt Reactor" call into question our perception of nuclear power.

How safe can a nuclear reactor be, if we free ourselves from the "technological lock-in" of uranium oxide solid fuel?
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #5 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:11am
 


Modular Thorium Reactor

Raw Science
Published on Nov 6, 2014
Dr. Frank Shu is a celebrated astrophysicist and Shaw Prize winner now dedicated to making an impact on climate change. He has developed a process that converts biomass to carbon neutral (or negative) coal that can be enhanced by a molten salt nuclear reaction.

Sponsored by: National Tsing Hua University
Executive Producer: Mitchell Block
Producer: Keri Kukral, Donald Goldsmith
Director/Editor: Brian Weidling
Presenter: Brian Heater
Music: Brian Allen Simon




Bobby
5 months ago
Quote:
Great video & answers to questions.
How does the cleaning process work?
What stops the delicate graphite reactor from crumbling to pieces?





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« Last Edit: Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:16am by Bobby. »  

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Re: Thorium power
Reply #6 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:11am
 
FShu,
Quote:
Sir Bobby, excellent questions to which my answers are given in detail below. Cleaning the salt: To complete the breeding cycle, there are two salts that require cleaning.  The fuel salt requires the removal of fission products that would absorb neutrons needed to maintain the chain reaction, with an excess of neutrons from each fission of U-233 that goes toward the conversion of Th-232 into Th-233.  The last species becomes U-233 after two beta-decays.   The most important  fission product to remove is Xe-135, which has a huge cross section (2 million times greater than normal) for capturing neutrons.  The isotopes of Kr are also abundantly represented in fission products and are important to remove for the same reason.  Fortunately, both are noble gases that will bubble out of the liquid salt if we sparge a carrier noble gas like helium into the pump bowl.  Next, the fissile U-233 needs to be reclaimed before further cleaning of the fuel salt.  Sparging fluorine gas, F2, into small samples of fuel salt will convert UF4 into UF6.  While UF4 is a liquid at temperatures characteristic of the fuel salt, UF6 is a gas and will, if encouraged, bubble out of the molten salt.  This step also removes compounds of volatile fission products like dangerous I-131 with an 8-hr half-life .  To separate the UF6 from the other volatile species, the vapor is passed through a powder of NaF-BeF2, which will adsorb the UF6 while letting the other gases through to be bottled and stored as radioactive nuclear waste.  By then passing hydrogen gas, H2, though the powder, the trapped UF6 is converted back to UF4 with the release of 2 molecules of HF gas for each molecule of UF4 or UF6.  The NaF-BeF2-UF4 can be put back into the reactor core as clean fuel salt, while the 2HF can be converted by electrolysis to F2 + H2.  The recycled F2 can be used to convert a new batch of UF4 to UF6 that is trapped in fresh NaF-BeF2, while the recycled H2 can be used to convert the UF6 trapped in NaF-eF2-UF6 into a new batch of cleaned fuel salt, NaF-BeF2-UF4. Where does the fresh NaF-BeF2 come from?  The small samples of fuel salt into which we sparge fluorine gas, F2, has not only NaF-BeF2, but also non-volatile fission products, some of which are extremely radioactive.  The high radioactivity will steadily try to increase the temperature of the fuel salt.  If we pump down the pressure above the contaminated fuel salt, we can vacuum-distill the fuel salt so that NaF-Be2 boils away as a gas once the temperature gets above 1000 C.  This vacuum distillation produces gaseous NaF-BeF2, which will become a liquid and then a solid as it cools down.  The pure solid NaF-BeF2 is what is made into a powder to capture the UF6 in the previous paragraph.  The non-volatile fission products left behind need to be divided into very small parcels, so that their large surface-to-volume ratios allow them to be cooled, and then converted from fluoride forms into safer oxide or silicate forms.  We put the parcels of solid oxide or silicate fission products into cold storage for up to five years, before fusing them with non-radioactive glasses to be buried for, say, three hundred years until the radioactivity decays to safe background levels. Blanket salt When we write UF4 or UF6 in the above, the U we are assuming is mostly U-233 (with a little accompanying U-232).  Natural uranium is mostly U-238 with a little U-235 mixed in.  Where do we get the U-233? The answer is from the blanket salt, which is either NaF-BeF2-ThF4 or, more simply, NaF-ThF4, with natural thorium being almost pure Th-232.  When Th-232 is irradiated by neutrons generated in the reactor core in excess of what is needed to maintain the chain reaction, the Th-232 can capture a neutron and become Th-233.  After two beta decays, the Th-233 turns into U-233.  In the blanket salt, the U-233 is in the form of UF4.  To separate the UF4 from the rest of the blanket salt, we remove a small batch of the blanket salt from the pool for off-line processing.  The processing consists of sparging F2 into the small sample, whiich converts the UF4 into UF6 that bubbles out of the blanket salt.  Unlike uranium, thorium does not have any valence state higher than +4, so the thorium stays as ThF4 and remains as a liquid in the cleaned blanket, salt which can be put back into the pool. As before, a powder of NaF-BeF2 can capture the UF6, with the combination turned into fuel salt by the methods described earlier.  Indeed, to prevent the cleaned fuel salt from dropping in U-233 concentration, we should add the UF6 extracted from the blanket salt as a supplement to the UF6 that comes from cleaning the fuel salt to make up whatever was lost by fission reactions in the core. In this way, the reactor becomes a breeder, which is self-sustaining in its fuel requirements as long as we have enough thorium in the blanket salt.
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #7 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:12am
 
FShu,
Quote:
Strength of Graphite Your other question concerns how to prevent the "delicate" graphite reactor from crumbling into pieces? It is true that the graphite in pencils is delicate and will crumble into pieces if one removes it from its wooden or metal casing.  However, reactor-grade graphite is made from much larger coherent pieces and has much greater physical integrity.  Such graphite is composed of a stack of 2-D sheets (called graphene), which are very strong in the lateral directions, hundreds of times stronger than structural steel of the same weight.  They are not very strong in the direction perpendicular to the 2-D sheet; indeed, sheets of graphene can be lifted away from other sheets by scotch tape (the method used by the team that won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010).  But if one compresses the reactor-grade graphite in the perpendicular direction, rather than try to pull it apart -- as is case with the modular construction shown in our video -- then the configuration is very strong, and can easily withstand the conditions present in a molten salt reactor.  Indeed, a peculiarity of graphite, in contrast to metals, is that its mechanical strength increases with increasing temperature.  Well above the temperature where even the most refractory metals melt or vaporize, reactor-grade graphite remains an intact strong solid. In particular, the mechanical macroscopic strength of graphene in the lateral direction translates on a microscopic level to a resistance against chemical attack by all elements other than extremely reactive oxygen.  The reason is that each carbon atom in graphene connects to three other carbons by a strong double bond, known to chemists as a sigma bond.  It is very difficult for any other atom to insert itself between any two carbons held together by a sigma double-bond.  The only way for even an oxygen atom to attack a sheet of graphene is at the edges, where by definition the carbon atoms do not have other carbons with which they are bonded on the empty side of the edge.  This is why reactor-grade graphite burns very slowly, even if you apply a blowtorch to it (as we and others have done as demonstration tests).  As soon as you remove the torch, the flames go out because the graphite can burn only at the edges.  The corrosion resistance of graphite means that it is an ideal material with which to build nuclear reactors, where fission products are generated with chemical positions that span all the columns (but not all the rows) of the periodic table. The only problem is that even reactor-grade graphite is porous, and one must be able to seal the pores if one wants to build a two-fluid molten-salt reactor, where the molten fuel salt and blanket salt do not mix inside the reactor.  This is a problem we solved by extending techniques discussed by the Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s.  We subsequently realized that the sealing is easier if we constructed the reactor out of carbon-fiber-reinforced-carbon (CFRC) tubes rather than blocks of reactor-grade graphite.  (SpaceX seems to have subsequently made the same discovery in its construction of carbon-fiber tanks to hold liquid rocket fuel.)  Carbon fibers are basically yarns made of long strands of graphene.  If one rolls up a sheet of graphene into a long cylinder, the result is called a carbon nanotube, which is one of the strongest materials ever constructed by humans.  If one folds and connects the ends of a short carbon nanotube in the third dimension, so that there are no edges anywhere, the result is a buckyball or fullerence, which is the strongest 3-D structure per unit mass in nature, except for diamonds, where each carbon is double-bonded with, not three, but four other carbons.  Thus, contrary to everyday experience, carbon-based materials, when they are made properly, are the least likely in nature to "crumble into pieces."
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #8 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:13am
 


Bobby
5 months ago
Quote:
Thank you Dr. Frank Shu for that very detailed reply.
The cleaning process is very complicated & the graphite construction is not easy either.



FShu
5 months ago
Quote:
Sir Bobby, "complicated" is in the eye of the beholder; however, I agree with your basic point that 2F-MSBRs are not for novices.

Given that current fission-reactor technology has no solution to the problem of high-level nuclear waste, the proposed steps are relatively simple and involve no processes that are not already practiced by industry (e.g., fluoride volatility or sparging gases into liquids).

Likewise, carbon-fiber composites are already used to build airplanes like the Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) to save on weight without sacrificing strength.   Sealing the graphite-based materials against intrusion by liquids or gases is the only novel step in its use for nuclear reactors.
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #9 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 5:25am
 
So in summary -

the cleaning process is vital to the operation of a molten salt Thorium reactor.
Think of it as like a kidney in your body.
The kidney cleans out the waste from the blood.
If left alone a Thorium reactor will slowly poison itself & fail to cause fission & heat.
Therefore the molten salt must be removed a small amount at a time -
cleaned & returned to the cycle.

This involves complex industrial processes.
Although it's a considerable drawback it also makes the Thorium reactor very safe as
a situation like Chernobyl of Fukushima cannot happen.
A meltdown is impossible.
in fact - at worst case it's walk away safe.


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Re: Thorium power
Reply #10 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:35pm
 
So the question remains -

why hasn't Australia invested even one penny into a Thorium research reactor?
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #11 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:40pm
 
Bobby. wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:35pm:
So the question remains -

why hasn't Australia invested even one penny into a Thorium research reactor?


aussies can't even make pulverised sheep sh.t let alone a nuclear reactor. In this months Silicon Chip magazine there is a whole article on the latest reactor technologies

http://www.siliconchip.com.au/Issue/2018/March/Generation+IV+Nuclear+Power+%E2%8...

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Re: Thorium power
Reply #12 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:55pm
 
Bobby. wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 4:48am:
dear Unforgiven,
I suggest you watch the entire video.
It actually promotes Thorium.

forgiven

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Rubbish.  At what point in that video does it endorse/promote Thorium power?
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And Indian women aren't exactly LBFMs..yuk. 
 
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #13 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 8:01pm
 
Sir lastnail wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:40pm:
Bobby. wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:35pm:
So the question remains -

why hasn't Australia invested even one penny into a Thorium research reactor?


aussies can't even make pulverised sheep sh.t let alone a nuclear reactor. In this months Silicon Chip magazine there is a whole article on the latest reactor technologies

http://www.siliconchip.com.au/Issue/2018/March/Generation+IV+Nuclear+Power+%E2%8...




It's almost a crime that we haven't looked into Thorium.
I believe 600 nuclear scientists are working on it in China.
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Re: Thorium power
Reply #14 - Mar 1st, 2018 at 8:06pm
 
Aussie wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 7:55pm:
Bobby. wrote on Mar 1st, 2018 at 4:48am:
dear Unforgiven,
I suggest you watch the entire video.
It actually promotes Thorium.

forgiven

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Rubbish.  At what point in that video does it endorse/promote Thorium power?



almost the whole video - try 42:44
or 50:00

At least have the courtesy to watch the video before calling it rubbish.
You're getting worse than Monk.
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