+1 to petition
India has revealed its plan for a new nuclear reactor design using the thorium fuel cycle. The Advanced Heavy Water design differs from China's molten salt or liquid fluoride designs. But Indian scientists expect the AHW reactor to be operational before China's, certainly by 2020, and are confident enough to seek buyers for …
ITYM "is hard to weaponise".
The US did make one 233U bomb just to see if it was possible. It went BANG as expected.
Its expected that it would be easier for inspectors to check whether a thorium reactor was being de-fueled for bomb making, but of course India isn't in the NPT, so there are no inspections.
As other posters have pointed out, "U233" has a high gamma output from the U232 that comes as part of the U233 production process, much the same way that Pu240 is produced in conjunction with Pu239. The main gamma line from U232 is relatively low energy and is thus easy to shield to the point where it isn't a major threat to personnel (not so easy to shield from an isotope identification survey).
..a rip-off of the THTR-300 design. They have the same electric output and (from what we can learn out of the Guardian article), they use a Thoium-Uranium oxide fuel, just as the German reactor.
Meanwhile we pay 20 eurocent/kWh to subsidize all the solar cells and windmills.
Yes it is based on the CANDU (according to Wikipedia), but the Government of Canada and AECL did not participate in pushing the CANDU system to the next level.
Apparently we (Canada) didn't sell enough CANDUs to make the design profitable, and AECL being a crown corporation meant constant foreign policy headaches as the US government told our government who we could and could not sell to.
The Government of Canada simply lacks the independent ability to act that GE and other US-based corporations have.
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Germany had a 300 MW (electric) Thorium reactor running in the 80s. The Greenies killed it off. I assume their paymasters did not like the fact it could have been used for coal gasification (coal->petrol). After all, who would pay for Saudi and Russian luxury if we didn't need their oil ?
Think the term fell off a cliff edge is most appropriate. Of course the rich 0.1% who pay the slightly less rich but certainly very comfy politicians are getting their way. And they don't care when us pathetic little guys have cold hovels, can't travel and can only envy them on the bit of the internet they don't censor to oblivion.
Their design is much more like a conventional uranium reactor and forfeits some of the benefits of the LFTR (or TMSR as the Chinese call it) design: the "not much nuclear waste" benefit and the "inherently safer" benefit specifically. On the other hand it's much more like conventional technology so their development timescale is shorter.
Still it's good news if they get it right. And let's hope they pay good attention to safety (more than the UC plant in Bhopal anyway). Nuclear power is great in potential and the yields are so high that every reasonable step should be taken to make it safe. Note i'm not saying "every possible step" like they have for protection from radiation where thresholds are ridiculously low, which kind of denies any potential economic benefit.
My understanding is that in the early days of nuclear thorium was the preferred route among many engineers and scientists as the reaction is inherently safe - it will shutdown unless you actively keep it going, unlike a uranium pile - and the fuel is more abundant than uranium and requires less processing.
However the uranium/plutonium cycle won the race for research funding as it was more suited to use on things like nuclear subs, and of course resulted in material suitable for use in weapons.
Thorium reactors are inherently safe (in the sense that you can't have a meltdown) and don't put nasty stuff in the hands of nasty people.
Of course I'm sure someone with more knowledge of these things will probably correct me on some of that IANANS.
"Very interesting, now go away – we have windmills to build" can be otherwise interpreted as "Very interesting, but it will have to wait until sufficient MPs and their relations have managed to grab controlling interests in the production companies to make it worthwhile."
+1 to the Thorium Reactor here. If they want to build one in my otherwise too small garage they can, as long as I get the power to the house for free and they leave a bit of room for the mower.
The problem is that they're very context-sensitive technologies, and haven't lived up to expectations. (Also, fossil fuels are, almost by definition, "renewable" sources: the renewal cycle just happens to take a very long time. In a scant few million years, our distant descendants may well be refining *us* for fuel!)
If there's no wind over your land, where do you get your electricity from? Solar power? What if the air is still, and it's night-time? You could lift water into a holding lake when you have an excess of power, but that does rather rely on there being a convenient bit of uninhabited geography to flood for said purpose. The UK already has such installations in mountainous regions like Wales, but you need a lot more of them to supply all the country's energy needs.
You need a _baseline_ supply that can be relied on to be there no matter what. And you simply cannot get that from most so-called "alternative" sources. ("So-called" because Italians and Americans—among many others—have been using wind-powered pumps to extract water from wells for generations. It's hardly a new energy source.)
Furthermore, solar energy systems are also location-sensitive. Italians are already used to high energy prices and very low mains supplies—3 kWh at the door is *normal* here; it's why the Italians didn't invent the electric kettle and toaster!—but they are blessed with lets of sunshine, so solar energy is, in fact, catching on in rural Italy in a big way. It's not a runaway success by any means, but you won't find it hard to spot installations. (Italians live primarily in apartments in urban areas, which makes solar panels harder to justify due to the limited roof space caused by such high density housing.)
The UK has a long history of cheap electricity thanks to its own coal and natural gas resources. This is only now starting to change, but it means people still think nothing of having a toaster, an electric oven, a power shower, and any number of TVs and other gadgets all running at the same time. A supply of 10 kWh at the door is still considered normal. Photovoltaic panels simply aren't going to make as noticeable a dent in British electricity bills as they do in Italy.
Solar heating may have some benefits, but it does require additional infrastructure in your hot water system—you need a large hot water tank, for example. British housing stock is primarily still of Victorian construction, so there are a lot more maisonettes and split houses that make fitting rooftop infrastructure difficult to justify: each flat usually has its own, separate, heating and electrical systems, for example. These can cost thousands to adapt—and that's on top of the panels themselves.
There is no magic wand. No "one size fits all" solution. And this point has been behind many of Andrew Orlowski's posts.
The visual and aural news media simply don't have the luxury of explaining all this, so they tend towards soundbites and oversimplification; everything is binary: black or white, yes or no, with us or against us. There's never much exploration of the subtle grey areas in between and the narrative invariably attempts to portray science as Panacea or Pandora's Box, but never as it truly is: a tool.
Well if you want the power to bring a billion odd people a decent standard of living windmills aren't going to cut it are they so they might want to look at building some nukes. Or would you rather they built lots of coal powered stations?
And when they start selling satellite launch space to us they should have developed the engineering know how to help improve their countries infrastructure. Plus some worthless foreign currency I'd imagine.
Nothing negative about Thorium coming to the rescue of an energy deficient emerging nation. If France produces 75 % of its Electricity from Nuclear, surely India and China can achieve higher growth potantial with Nuclear (and more safely). They can even export these reactors to other third world countries to meet their leccy needs!
Dependency on oil will only bring chaos and recession cycles to these developing countries.
About time they accelerated nuke power manyfold and save us from this oil price fuelled recessions.
My guess : 5 thorium reactors in UK will bring anough electricity to actually bring prices down and reduce dependency on oil, which means oil only for petrol and cars.
The oil only for petrol and cars.
There are many more (profitable) products from crude than just oil whether heavy, heating or fuel.
Pharmaceuticals, LPG, Benzene, toluene etc
I'll just add ".. and our fanatical devotion to the pope." as a gratuitous Python reference and also to imply there are many more before someone else brings up some examples I missed.
Western countries are going to be living on handouts from China and India within 50 years.
Actually, the way things are going it could be 20.
The West, led by the USA, have sat on their complacent fat arses now for decades, sure in the delusion that non western people are simply not capable of any sort of intellectual or industrial excellence.
While we hamstring ourselves at the behest of the hand-wringing middle classes in our they get on with the job of building their economies without pandering to the guilt mongering morons who think that everything that ails the world is the fault of descendants of white Europeans.
In Australia, we are in the process of implementing a totally useless "Carbon Tax" that will cripple our economy and make it impossible for us to do business.
Already or businesses are bleeding dry because our dollar is at record highs compared to the greenback and other currencies and this insane Gillard/Greens Carbon Tax will be the final nail in the coffin.
At the same time nobody in Australia will even consider the possibilities of Nuclear power.
Apparently we are all going to die due to AGW but even that is not enough to prompt the shambling imbeciles that rule and populate this country to consider the idea.
Australia is an energy rich country, being net exporters of coal, uranium and LNG yet our governments are dead set against actually using that wealth to our benefit.
Instead, we refuse to build nuclear and are working overtime to shutdown our coal fired power plants.
We could use our abundant cheap energy to give ourselves an advantage in the international marketplace or we could shoot ourselves in the foot and ship that energy overseas.
Unsurprisingly, our cretinous "leaders" choose the gun->foot option.
It drives me to despair.
gun->foot, it's 'ow we do it down 'ere, Mate!
CSIRO in the 50's... what shall we spend our research money on? Digital computers? NO, what possible use could starting up a computer industry be? Let's focus on silver iodide rainmaking! Maybe advanced sheep dip!
And my, didn't that work out a treat! Look at the wealth that has created for.. oh. hang on.
I seem to recall the nasty little Howard runt once proclaiming that Australia is unsuitable for solar power development - yeah, all those vast unused desert spaces with long sunlight hours, all those rare earth minerals, all the UNSW research into efficient solar cells and energy storage, NOPE, no use at all. Unfeasable. Too hard. Why bother, when we can create wealth by digging up dirt, shipping it overseas and creating our very own home-grown housing and income gap crisis?
Could someone please invade (or just buy us out, it wouldn't take much!) us? We deserve it, really.
This country is filled with short sighted redneck ute driving cretins and chardonnay swilling middle class inner city ecotards (cue more downvotes from said ecotards and or redneck cretins, bring em on morons)
Personally, I'm still hoping for the zombie apocalypse to arrive. I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard.
Virtual beer for you, because real beer is too fricking expensive these days.
I put that down to "education"; replacing inate curiiosity with fear during the upbringing of a child. We now have adults who are supposed to be running counrties who are inept at everything because of paralysing fear of everything.
Generations have been wasted by turning fear into a fashion; exascerbated by ostracising those unfashionables who try to understand what they do not understand; instead of buying the fears of the unknown.
People who want power tell scary stories. So that the over-aged children can be maintained in a compliant, frightened state.
"This talk is aimed at explaining this thorium energy resource from fundamental physics to today's practical applications. The presentation is sufficient for the non-scientist to grasp the whole subject, but will be intriguing to even classically trained nuclear engineers."
The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor: What Fusion Wanted To Be
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