2 • The absorption cross-section for thermal neutrons of 232Th (7.4 barns) is nearly three times that of 238U (2.7 barns). Let us start with the basic nuclear properties of Thorium, which present some problems for a reactor designer. A variant of an MSR, a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), will be able to use abundant thorium as a fuel. Thorium is more abundant than uranium. They could produce fewer long-lived radioactive isotopes than conventional nuclear reactors, simplifying the disposal of nuclear waste. In addition, thorium reactors could theoretically be used to burn up the dangerous plutonium stored in existing nuclear waste stockpiles. October 6, 2020 at 05:52. Thor Energy’s thorium reactor in Halden, Norway. The truth is that thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. Using thorium formulated in liquid nuclear fuel generates less than one percent of the nuclear waste of conventional solid fuel rod nuclear reactors that use uranium. Spent fuel should be reprocessed and consumed in fast neutron reactors before jumping into thorium with both feet. In fact, new designs of molten salt reactors are now being researched which could consume existing stocks of radioactive nuclear waste as fuel, thus permanently removing the need for long-term storage of nuclear waste (pages 78-79). Also, thorium ore contains a greater percentage of thorium than the amount of uranium found in its respective ore, making thorium mining more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. They can actually burn up more radioactive waste than they produce. Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a spectrum of waste that’s different from those from uranium 235, which includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including technetium 99, with a half-life of 300,000 years, and iodine 129, with a half-life of 15.7 million years. — Dennis Dorando, Concord, Calif. Thorium fuel cycle reactors are one of the options considered for the Generation IV reactors that may replace in a far future today pressurized and boilling water reactors. And this thorium waste is much more benign. The reactor itself, at the end of its lifetime, will constitute high level waste : • Almost all the thorium can be converted to fissile U-233, but it is more difficult to convert U-238 to Pu-239 with high efficiency. Thorium reactors generate significantly less radioactive waste, and can re-use separated uranium, making the reactor self-sufficient once started. Thorium is … It may also reduce the need for long-term storage as the technology for reusing fuels is improved. In a word: precedent. Mini-PRIMER on THE THORIUM CONCEPT. Possible Advantages The proposed thorium hybrid reactor is distinguished from today's nuclear reactors by moderate power, relatively compact size, high operational safety, and a low level of radioactive waste. Reactors Safety Thorium Waste & Recycling. Jim Conca says. The MSR first emerged in the context of the US effort, launched in the late 1940s, to develop nuclear-powered aircraft. It’s certainly possible to base nuclear reactors around thorium, as opposed to the most commonly used element, uranium. The Russian researchers plan to use weapons-grade plutonium to fuel that reaction, giving the reactor the safety benefits of thorium while also disposing of the nuclear waste. (Fast-spectrum molten salt reactors (FS-MSR) can use all isotopes of uranium, not just the 0.7% U-235 in natural uranium — with all the safety and stability of MSR.) The 90th element, Thorium, has only one isotope that made it to our planet, Th-232 with a half life of 40 billion years. In addition, the transition to thorium could be done through the incineration of weapons grade plutonium (WPu) or civilian plutonium. (See also Hargraves and Moir 2010). Thorium Reactors – Advantages and Disadvantages. radiotoxicity waste. A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of nuclear fission reactor in which the primary nuclear reactor coolant and/or the fuel is a molten salt mixture. This means thorium-based molten salt reactors will not present the problems of storing radioactive waste for thousands of years that conventional nuclear plants face. They are done being used when they're about 2% spent. But actually, with LFTRs, yes, there is a smaller volume of waste, but it is more intensively radioactive. A lot of material goes into uranium reactors, and a lot comes out, and it's still highly radioactive. How thorium can burn nuclear waste and generate energy. This stage will feed into later research into how to deal with the waste from a molten salt thorium reactor. And thorium reactors likely would be somewhat safer because of thorium … Yes, all waste should be burned in fast reactors, but new fuel is so cheap that that might take a long time to get to. But Molten salt reactors are amazing. Reduced nuclear waste. Approaches to a thorium reactor include: ... Th 232 is about four times as abundant as U 238 in the earth’s crust (Chapter 9: Environment, waste, and resources). An idea from Cambridge University for replacing uranium with thorium in conventional nuclear reactors. In this design of nuclear reactor, thorium forms a blanket around the reactor core where it absorbs neutrons and becomes uranium ... and also the radioactive waste decays faster than the conventional nuclear waste. The main advantage of thorium is that the waste has a half-life on the order of dozens, rather than thousands, of years. True. The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the US taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials. But there’s so little waste, it’s not a problem to store or dispose. It is very difficult to explain the possible advantages and disadvantages. This makes it an excellent technology for reducing global carbon emissions, e.g. Therefore, be careful when you argue for or against thorium reactors. This is mainly because of the inefficiency of uranium fuel rods. Some estimate that the threat of hazardous waste from a thorium reactor will be 1,000 times less than comparable uranium-based technologies that are currently in use. Oh, thorium-MOX makes for safer nuclear reactors, too, due to a higher melting point and thermal conductivity. This makes safe storage of the waste very difficult, if not impossible. How is Thorium a Fuel? There are various different ways that thorium can – … Thorium reactors have other potential advantages. LFTRs are designed to … Some of the following points can be valid for one reactor design and another point can be invalid for another thorium-based reactor. Thorium reactors are not turned off for refueling like uranium reactors, or when it gets dark like solar, or seasonally like wind and other renewable sources. Another claim is: "Thorium reactors avoid the problem of radioactive waste. A nuclear reactor that works with molten salt and thorium is an improvement over current nuclear reactors in almost all respects. There are still several problems that need solving before NRG’s thorium reactor designs will be scaled up to industrial levels. The use of thorium reactors instead of traditional nuclear reactors would eliminate the need for large-scale storage of spent fuel. A new molten salt reactor design can scale from just 50 Megawatts electric (MWe) to 1,200 MWe, its creators say, while burning up nuclear waste in the process. ☢️ You like nuclear. Molten salt reactors offer potential improvements in reactor safety. Yes. As with any nuclear power plant, you have two wastes produced: Fission products, the mass of which is directly related to the power produced (at about a gram a megawatt-day) and non-fissile actinides from capture instead of fission. Concerning safety aspects, thorium reactors will generate less nuclear waste … thorium reactors are, by an order of magnitude more expensive than uranium fueled reactors. Why aren’t we using thorium in nuclear reactors, given the possibility of a meltdown is nearly zero and the waste cannot be used to make bombs? A new nuclear fuel made from both uranium and thorium, especially when used in CANDU/PHWRs, can address several issues with nuclear power – proliferation, waste … Because it is simple to operate, we can make smaller power stations that are still easy to run. Conventional reactors generate waste that is highly radioactive for 10,000 years or more. when used in combination with solar and wind energy. Hence, a higher conversion (to 233U) is possible with 232Th than with 238U (to 239Pu). With thorium, we have a shorter waste storage problem to deal with; we humans can deal with the necessary time frame (500-1,000 years). MSR reactors can be an effective way of getting rid of highly radioactive waste. Eventually, they’ll need to examine how to deal with the waste from a molten salt thorium reactor. A thorium reactor is inherently safe and produces much less, and less hazardous radioactive waste. From a power-generation perspective, the … Thorium reactors produce hardly any waste at all, and the waste they do produce is much safer. A thorium cycle may ensure in principle the energy future of mankind for thousands of years. Instead of thorium, a Molten Salt Reactor can use uranium-235 or plutonium waste, from LWR and other reactors. Fast neutron reactors before jumping into thorium with both feet later research how. 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