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Thread: Could Thorium provide the solution to the world's energy crisis?

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    Default Could Thorium provide the solution to the world's energy crisis?

    Dr Carlo Rubbio is working at CERN on the use of Thorium as a clean and safe alternative to Uranium in nuclear reactors.

    Dr Rubbio says a tonne of the silvery metal produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of Uranium or 3.5 million tonnes of coal.

    Thorium consumes its own hazardous waste and it can even scavenge the Plutonium left by Uranium reactors.

    Apparently one of the main reasons why Uranium became the standard fuel for the nuclear industry after WW II is because of the need for Plutonium for nuclear warheads.

    Thorium is very abundant and is produced as a by-product of many mining operations.

    Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium - Telegraph

    Thorium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Interesting...12 of those distributed small 600MW plants would see us right for a while. And it'd be half the price of Anglo! Or of course a wide combination of wind, tidal, pumped storage, solar, thorium, small distributed power supplies from a variety of sources, makes far more sense than one huge dirty liable-to-explode traditional nuclear reactor...if there really is anything in this and if we had a govt with a clue we should be clamouring to volunteer, just like we should have been beating down the door of the Scands when they started co-operating on future energy research programs a few years ago.

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    Politics.ie Member Magror14's Avatar
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    The Telegraph likes a good story so I treat it with a pinch of salt. There is a reference to this in an article earlier this year in Scientific American which says that the cost of producing electricity is 80% higher than for a heavy water reactor. The article is worth a read.

    Are New Types of Reactors Needed for the U.S. Nuclear Renaissance?: Scientific American

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    But new technologies are always expensive at first...there's a lot of entrenched vested interests who would be firmly agin it...and is it cheap energy or stable energy we want?

    If the price worked out for electricity at the equivalent of $100-a-barrel for oil but that price was reliable and non-fluctuating in real terms for the next 1000 years, there was no hazardous waste, and each individual plant was small-scale and easily replaced/decommissioned, wouldn't that be much better than some of the loony alternatives being touted?

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    Helium 3 is the energy source of the future
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair.

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    Politics.ie Member Magror14's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by He3 View Post
    Helium 3 is the energy source of the future
    I suppose hot air does have its uses

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magror14 View Post
    I suppose hot air does have its uses
    And all of them benign. Wonderful really!
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair.

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    Politics.ie Member needle_too's Avatar
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    Lemme guess.... Ireland is just bursting with the stuff, right?

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    Politics.ie Member cry freedom's Avatar
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    Below is an extract from a letter I sent to a few influential USA
    politicians and industrialists earlier this year.
    I have to admit that as of today, I have not heard back from any of them but I live in hope




    Lay people outside the industry can be forgiven for thinking that nuclear technology is dead and buried. After all, no new power plant has been started in the USA in the last 30 years.

    Quietly and behind the scenes, old generating stations have been transformed both by technical modifications and new safety procedures. These “old dogs” have provided 20% of the USA’s power for over a quarter of a century without loss of one life or release of any significant pollution.

    If this type of old uranium reactor were all that was on offer today I would not bother you with this letter.

    There is renewed interest in new generation nuclear power and it is about this that I write to you.

    New is a slight misnomer as most of the research into this technology was carried out between 1950 and 1970.

    It was abandoned mainly I think because it did not offer any great scope for the creation of nuclear weapons and you will no doubt recall that during that cold war period military considerations were uppermost in the minds of those in control of the tax dollars. Global warming and energy independence are today’s imperative.

    As about 70% of the research is already successfully completed and looking extremely promising it would seem to me [and other much more qualified advocates of this technology], sensible to push forward the last few steps to prove its ultimate viability.

    This technology is called LIQUID FLUORIDE THORIUM REACTOR, [LFTR]
    Or “Lifter” to its fans.

    Compared to a uranium plant it is:
    · Cheaper to build.
    · Generates less than 1% of the waste.
    · The waste it does create decays to safe levels in 200 years as opposed to thousands of years in the case of old type reactors.
    · Thorium is 4 times more abundant than uranium, and therefore cheaper.
    · The USA has vast reserves of thorium. Some say enough to last it 1,000 years.
    · Of no real practical use in making nuclear weapons.
    · Inherently safe. You could not start a meltdown even if you tried.
    · Could be used [in theory at least] to burn up existing nuclear waste.
    · It works on fluid based fuel technology and as such allows chemical separation of the waste products rather than the much more difficult isotopic separation of solid fuel technology.

    “If it is so wonderful why is it not in use;” I hear you ask.
    A very good question and I have to admit that I am not entirely sure of the answer.
    As far as I can tell, it appears to be a mixture of politics and the old chicken and egg situation. You cannot build a nuclear power station without a government license
    You cannot get a license until the research is completed. No private organization is going to fund the research if the end result is likely to be a license refusal. In addition, the industry leaders in atomic fuel technology have so much invested in solid fuel uranium technology they are naturally reluctant to let any new kid on to the block in case it would upset their little applecart.

    To move the situation forward, the US government would need to fund further feasibility research and the construction of a small working [say 100MW] model. While I have the hand out I might as well ask for some money for research into the Brayton closed cycle turbine which would also make the whole process even more efficient.

    With all the tax dollars that are being invested in some of the “Tweety Pie” engineering on the renewable side I would hope that some could be spared for the “hard “ engineering side of the equation.

    The USA is rich in thorium and its use would help President Obama reduce USA dependence on imported fuels while creating jobs at home and improving his credentials with the climate change brigade.

    Its value to little Ireland is that it would give us a trickle down opportunity to set our energy requirements on a safer road than the “something will turn up” approach being currently adopted by our government.
    To this end I take the liberty of asking you and your organization to use your contacts and experience to lobby for funding for the above project.

    While making every allowance for the gushing zeal new converts display when taking up a new project, [especially an environmental project] I have to say that I am very impressed with the quiet confidence and expertise of some of the nuclear engineers who are pushing this idea forward. Dr.Joe Bonometti and Dr. Kirk Sorensen to name but two.

    Serious decisions about the make up of the energy generating industry will have to be made in the next few years and I feel that the LTFR should be at least part of the solution.


    PS.
    Some suggested links:
    Welcome to the Energy From Thorium Learning Center
    Thorium Energy Alliance Objectives[/QUOTE]

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