A false new dream for the nuclear industry – Thorium Reactors

What you then get, as well as heat energy, radiation, and fission products from the Plutonium and Uranium, is U232. U232 (and its decay products) emit very hard gamma radiation.

  will anyone really trust the nuclear lobby when it says ‘we have the answer’, as so often before?

Nuclear Problems, Environmental Research Web, 12 Feb 12,”……With uranium fired reactors out of favour after Fukushima, for the longer term, some in the nuclear lobby have been promoting thorium as an allegedly safer fuel- looking at molten flouride salt systems.

The Weinberg Foundation was launched last year to promote the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) which was portrayed as one of ‘the world’s safest reactor designs which cannot burn or melt down, breeds its own fuel, consumes most of its highly radioactive products, and will not release any radioactive materials into the environment’.

Canada, China and India all have projects underway but the technology
is still some way off as viable commercial option. Certainly it’s not
without its problems. Thorium is not fissile, so to make a reactor
work you have to mix it with U235 or plutonium or provide some other
source of neutrons (e.g. a particle accelerator) to convert it to
U233, which is fissile. What you then get, as well as heat energy,
radiation, and fission products from the Plutonium and Uranium, is
U232. U232 (and its decay products) emit very hard gamma radiation.
That’s seen as ensuring that no one would try to steal fuel from
thorium reactors to make bombs – since it would be so hard to work
with or shield from detection. But it also makes it hard to design
safe reactors or deal with their wastes- you need very much thicker
shielding for the reactor core or for waste transport containers. We
are probably talking a meter of lead or so!

Some thorium enthusiasts say that nearly all the wastes can be burnt
up within the reactor, but there will still be some to deal with- and
there’s always the chance of fuel/waste escapes/ leaks. And you really
wouldn’t want to be around then……  will anyone really trust the
nuclear lobby when it says ‘we have the answer’, as so often before?
Technologies like this also seem to attract single-minded lobbyists
and believers in ‘silver bullet’ fixes, which can distract from the
development of a wider range of arguably more realistic renewable
options. http://environmentalresearchweb.org/blog/2012/02/nuclear-problems.html

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