January 16, 2015, Jortiz3
Contrary to popular belief, the reason light-enriched-uranium reactors are used, and not thorium or breeder reactors, is due to simple economics. To run breeder reactors and thorium reactors, the neutron density and heat density must be so great that high-temperature coolants must be used throughout the core.
The systems used to manage these coolants are as exotic as the coolants are. This leads to increased costs, on the order of 20%. This 20% is enough that utilities simply choose light-enriched-uranium so that the reactor core can be cool enough that cooling with water is possible and savings can offset the cost of mining the ridiculous quantities of natural uranium required.
Isn’t this just dandy? The Australian government can’t afford to fund services to the needy in health, education, and is doing its darndest to kill clean energy, but is quietly promoting nuclear energy. And not conventional nuclear energy, which is bad enough, but the untested, hugely costly thorium experiment – the same one that was tried and found unviable 50 years ago
ANSTO-SINAP Joint Research Centre, 16 Jan 15 In December 2012, ANSTO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) for cooperation in the area of materials research and development.
If Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) s are used to ‘burn up’ waste from conventional reactors, their fuel now comprises 238U, 235U, 239Pu, 240Pu and other actinides.
Operated in this way, what is now a mixed-fuel molten salt reactor will breed plutonium (from 238U) and other long lived actinides, perpetuating the plutonium cycle.
How Much Safer Would Thorium Based Nuclear Power Be? http://www.newsaddicted.com/2015/01/04/how-much-safer-would-thorium-based-nuclear-power-be/?tb January 4, 2015 | By News Junkie Uploaded by Alchemist-hp via Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)
According to Oliver Tickell, not much:
Numerous advantages for thorium as a nuclear fuel and for the LFTR design over conventional solid fuel reactors have been claimed. In this section we consider each of these claims in turn.
3.1 Abundance of thorium relative to uranium
Claim: Thorium is several times more abundant in the Earth’s crust than uranium.
Response: Thorium (232Th) is indeed more abundant than uranium, by a factor of three to four. But whereas 0.7% of uranium occurs as fissile 235U, none of the thorium is fissile. The world already possesses an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of depleted uranium (mainly 238U), like thorium a fertile but non-fissile material. So the greater abundance of thorium than uranium confers no advantage, other than a very marginal advantage in energy security to those countries in which it is abundant.
3.2 Relative utility of thorium and uranium as fuel
Claim: 100% of the thorium is usable as fuel, in contrast to the low (~0.7%) proportion of fissile 235U in natural uranium.
Response: Thorium must be subjected to neutron irradiation to be transformed into a fissile material suitable for nuclear fuel (uranium, 233U). The same applies to the 238U that makes up depleted uranium, which as already observed, is plentiful. In theory, 100% of either metal could be bred into nuclear fuel. However, uranium has a strong head start, as 0.7% of it is fissile (235U) in its naturally-occurring form.
3.3 Nuclear weapons proliferation
Claim: thorium reactors do not produce plutonium, and so create little or no proliferation hazard.
Response: thorium reactors do not produce plutonium. But an LFTR could (by including 238U in the fuel) be adapted to produce plutonium of a high purity well above normal weapons-grade, presenting a major proliferation hazard. Beyond that, the main proliferation hazards arise from:
the need for fissile material (plutonium or uranium) to initiate the thorium fuel cycle, which could be diverted, and
the production of fissile uranium 233U.Claim: the fissile uranium (233U) produced by thorium reactors is not “weaponisable” owing to the presence of highly radiotoxic 232U as a contaminant. Response: 233U was successfully used in a 1955 bomb test in the Nevada Desert under the USA’s Operation Teapot and so is clearly weaponisable notwithstanding
any 232U present. Moreover, the continuous pyro-processing / electro-refining technologies intrinsic to MSRs / LFTRs could generate streams of 233U very low in 232U at a purity well above weapons grade as currently defined.
Claim: LFTRs are intrinsically safe, because the reactor operates at low pressure and is and incapable of melting down.
Response: the design of molten salt reactors does indeed mitigate against reactor meltdown and explosion. However, in an LFTR the main danger has been shifted from the reactor to the on-sitecontinuous fuel reprocessing operation – a high temperature process involving highly hazardous, explosive and intensely radioactive materials. A further serious hazard lies in the potential failure of the materials used for reactor and fuel containment in a highly corrosive chemical environment, under intense neutron and other radiation.
3.5 State of technology
Claim: the technology is already proven.
Response: important elements of the LFTR technology were proven during the 1970s Molten SaltBreeder Reactor (MSBR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. However, this was a small research reactor rated at just 7MW and there are huge technical and engineering challenges in scaling up this experimental design to make a ‘production’ reactor. Specific challenges include:
developing materials that can both resist corrosion by liquid fluoride salts including diverse fission products, and withstand decades of intense neutron radiation;
scaling up fuel reprocessing techniques to deal safely and reliably with large volumes of highly radioactive material at very high temperature;
keeping radioactive releases from the reprocessing operation to an acceptably low level;
achieving a full understanding of the thorium fuel cycle.
3.6 Nuclear waste
Claim: LFTRs produce far less nuclear waste than conventional solid fuel reactors.
Response: LFTRs are theoretically capable of a high fuel burn-up rate, but while this may indeed reduce the volume of waste, the waste is more radioactive due to the higher volume of radioactive fission products. The continuous fuel reprocessing that is characteristic of LFTRs will also produce hazardous chemical and radioactive waste streams, and releases to the environment will be unavoidable.
Claim: Liquid fluoride thorium reactors generate no high-level waste material.
Response: This claim, although made in the report from the House of Lords, has no basis in fact. High-level waste is an unavoidable product of nuclear fission. Spent fuel from any LFTR will be intensely radioactive and constitute high level waste. The reactor itself, at the end of its lifetime, will constitute high level waste.
Claim: the waste from LFTRs contains very few long-lived isotopes, in particular transuranic actinides such as plutonium.
Response: the thorium fuel cycle does indeed produce very low volumes of plutonium and other long-lived actinides so long as only thorium and 233U are used as fuel. However, the waste contains many radioactive fission products and will remain dangerous for many hundreds of years. A particular hazard is the production of 232U, with its highly radio-toxic decay chain.
Claim: LFTRs can ‘burn up’ high level waste from conventional nuclear reactors, and stockpiles of plutonium.
Response: if LFTRs are used to ‘burn up’ waste from conventional reactors, their fuel now comprises 238U, 235U, 239Pu, 240Pu and other actinides. Operated in this way, what is now a mixed-fuel molten salt reactor will breed plutonium (from 238U) and other long lived actinides, perpetuating the plutonium cycle.
3.7 Cost of electricity
Claim: the design of LFTRs tends towards low construction cost and very cheap electricity.
Response: while some elements of LFTR design may cut costs compared to conventional reactors, other elements will add cost, notably the continuous fuel reprocessing using high-temperature ‘pyro-processing’ technologies. Moreover, a costly experimental phase of ~20-40 years duration will be required before any ‘production’ LFTR reactors can be built.
It is very hard to predict the cost of the technology that finally emerges, but the economics of nuclear fuel reprocessing to date suggests that the nuclear fuel produced from breeder reactors is about 50 times more expensive than ‘virgin’ fuel. It therefore appears probable that any electricity produced from LFTRs will be expensive.
We must also consider the prospect that relatively novel or immature energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity and photo-evolved hydrogen, will have become well established as low-cost technologies long before LFTRs are in the market.
Claim: Thorium and the LFTR offer a solution to current and medium-term energy supply deficits.
Response: The thorium fuel cycle is immature. Estimates from the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (see 4.2 below) suggest that 10-15 years of research will be needed before thorium fuels are ready to be deployed in existing reactor designs. Production LFTRs will not be deployable on any significant scale for 40-70 years.
“……..it will likely be later than the estimated 2022 before TVA has an SMR online. And, the decision on whether one actually gets built will rest with the TVA board.
In April, B&W announced it was restructuring its mPower program. Instead of around $60 million a year, it would only spend $15 million per year.
The company also laid off about 200 people in Virginia and in Tennessee involved with the project. The company said in a statement that it was having trouble lining up investors.
Also on Nov. 5, B&W announced plans to spin off its nuclear operations, including the mPower program, into a separate company called BWX Technologies……” TVA shifts focus on Oak Ridge nuclear reactor, Knoxville News Sentinel 4 Dec 14
Excerpted from: Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power, By Arjun Makhijani and Michele Boyd.
A Fact Sheet Produced by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Thorium may be abundant and possess certain technical advantages, but it does not mean that it is economical. Compared to uranium, thorium fuel cycle is likely to be even more costly. In a once‐through mode, it will need both uranium enrichment (or plutonium separation) and thorium target rod production. In a breeder configuration, it will need reprocessing, which is costly. In addition, inhalation of thorium‐232 produces a higher dose than the same amount of uranium‐238 (either by radioactivity or by weight). Reprocessed thorium creates even more risks due to the highly radioactive U‐232 created in the reactor. This makes worker protection more difficult and expensive for a given level of annual dose. Finally, the use of thorium also creates waste at the front end of the fuel cycle. The radioactivity associated with these is expected to be considerably less than that associated with a comparable amount of uranium milling. However, mine wastes will pose long‐term hazards, as in the case of uranium mining. There are also often hazardous non‐radioactive metals in both thorium and uranium mill tailings.
1. There is no “thorium reactor.” There is a proposal to use thorium as a fuel in various reactor designs including light-water reactors – the most prevalent in the United States – as well as fast breeder reactors.
2. You still need uranium – or even plutonium – in a reactor using thorium.
3. Using plutonium sets up proliferation risks.
4. Uranium-233 is also excellent weapons-grade material.
5. Proliferation risks are not negated by thorium mixed with U-238.
6. Thorium would trigger a resumption of reprocessing in the US.
7. Using thorium does not eliminate the problem of long-lived radioactive waste.
8. Attempts to develop “thorium reactors” have failed for decades.
9. Fabricating “thorium fuel” is dangerous to health.
10. Fabricating “thorium fuel” is expensive.
Just today, (15/12/14) Australia’s leading thorium nuclear promoter, Barry Brook released “An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy” No surprises here – the usual con job that nuclear energy can be the leading nethod of dealing with climate change.
What was a surprise to me, was the number of scientists willing to sign this piece of pro nuclear propaganda. Here they are:
1. Professor Andrew J. Beattie, Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia. email@example.com
2. Assistant Professor David P. Bickford, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore. firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Professor Tim M. Blackburn, Professor of Invasion Biology, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, University College London, United Kingdom. email@example.com
4. Professor Daniel T. Blumstein, Chair, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Los Angeles, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Professor Luigi Boitani, Dipartimento di Biologia, e Biotecnologie Charles Darwin, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy. email@example.com
6. Professor Mark S. Boyce, Professor and Alberta Conservation Association Chair in Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta,Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Professor David M.J.S. Bowman, Professor of Environmental Change Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia. email@example.com
8. Associate Professor Phillip Cassey, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia.
9. Professor F. Stuart Chapin III, Professor Emeritus of Ecology, Department of Biology and Wildlife, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Professor David Choquenot, Director, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Australia. email@example.com
11. Professor Richard T. Corlett, Director, Centre for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. firstname.lastname@example.org
12. Dr Franck Courchamp, Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution – UMR CNRS, Université Paris-Sud, France. email@example.com
13. Professor Chris B. Daniels, Director, Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
14. Professor Chris Dickman, Professor of Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia. email@example.com
15. Associate Professor Don Driscoll, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National University, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
16. Professor David Dudgeon, Chair Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China. email@example.com
17. Associate Professor Erle C. Ellis, Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
18. Dr Damien A. Fordham, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia. email@example.com
19. Dr Eddie Game, Senior Scientist, The Nature Conservancy Worldwide Office,Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
20. Professor Kevin J. Gaston, Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation, Director, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, United Kingdom. email@example.com
21. Professor Dr Jaboury Ghazoul, Professor of Ecosystem Management, ETH Zürich, Institute for Terrestrial Ecosystems, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org
22. Professor Robert G. Harcourt, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia. email@example.com
23. Professor Susan P. Harrison, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
24. Professor Fangliang He, Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity and Landscape Modelling, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Canada and State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and School of Life Sciences, Sun-yat Sen University, Guangzhou, China. email@example.com
25. Professor Mark A. Hindell, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
26. Professor Richard J. Hobbs, School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, Australia. email@example.com
27. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor and Director, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
28. Professor Marcel Holyoak, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, USA. email@example.com
29. Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
30. Professor Christopher N. Johnson, Department of Zoology, University of Tasmania,Australia. email@example.com
31. Dr Julia P.G. Jones, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology, School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, United Kingdom. firstname.lastname@example.org
32. Professor Kate E. Jones, Biodiversity Modelling Research Group, University College London, United Kingdom. email@example.com
33. Dr Lucas Joppa, Conservation Biologist, United Kingdom. firstname.lastname@example.org
34. Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia. email@example.com
35. Professor Charles J. Krebs, Emeritus, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
36. Dr Robert C. Lacy, Conservation Biologist, USA. email@example.com
37. Associate Professor Susan Laurance, Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Studies, James Cook University, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
38. Professor William F. Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate, Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Australia. email@example.com
39. Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy, Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and University Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy department, George Mason University, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
40. Dr Antony J Lynam, Global Conservation Programs, Wildlife Conservation Society,USA. email@example.com
41. Professor Anson W. Mackay, Department of Geography, University College London,United Kingdom. firstname.lastname@example.org
42. Professor Helene D. Marsh, College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook University,Australia. email@example.com
43. Professor Michelle Marvier, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
44. Dr Clive R. McMahon, Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia. email@example.com
45. Dr Mark Meekan, Marine Biologist, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
46. Dr Erik Meijaard, Borneo Futures Project, People and Nature Consulting, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. email@example.com
47. Professor L. Scott Mills, Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program in Global Environmental Change, North Carolina State University, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
48. Professor Atte Moilanen, Research Director, Conservation Decision Analysis, University of Helsinki, Finland. email@example.com
49. Professor Craig Moritz, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
50. Dr Robin Naidoo, Adjunct Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability University of British Columbia, Canada. email@example.com
51. Professor Reed F. Noss, Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor, University of Central Florida, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
52. Associate Professor Julian D. Olden, Freshwater Ecology and Conservation Lab, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, USA. e: email@example.com
53. Professor Maharaj Pandit, Professor and Head, Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, India. firstname.lastname@example.org
54. Professor Kenneth H. Pollock, Professor of Applied Ecology, Biomathematics and Statistics, Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, USA. email@example.com
55. Professor Hugh P. Possingham, School of Biological Science and School of Maths and Physics, The University of Queensland, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
56. Professor Peter H. Raven, George Engelmann Professor of Botany Emeritus, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University in St. Louis,USA. email@example.com
57. Professor David M. Richardson, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. firstname.lastname@example.org
58. Dr Euan G. Ritchie, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Australia. email@example.com
59. Dr Çağan H. Şekercioğlu, Assistant Professor, Biology, University of Utah, USAand Doçent 2010, Biology/Ecology, Inter-university Council (UAK) of Turkey. firstname.lastname@example.org
60. Associate Professor Douglas Sheil, Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway. email@example.com
61. Professor Richard Shine AM FAA, Professor in Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
62. Professor Chris D. Thomas, FRS, Department of Biology, University of York,United Kingdom. email@example.com
63. Professor Ross M. Thompson, Chair of Water Science, Institute of Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
64. Professor Ian G. Warkentin, Environmental Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. email@example.com
65. Professor Stephen E. Williams, Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
66. Professor Kirk O. Winemiller, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Interdisciplinary Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Texas A&M University,USA. email@example.com
Note: Affiliations of signatories are for identification purposes, and do not imply that their organizations have necessarily endorsed this letter.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment Funds almost Half of UK Universitieshttp://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/the-atomic-weapons-establishment-funds-almost-half-of-uk-universities/
Oak Ridge National Lab Discusses Relationship Between Molten Thorium Reactor And Weapons:
“By 1954, the Laboratory’s chemical technologists had completed a pilot plant demonstrating the ability of the THOREX process to separate thorium, protactinium, and uranium-233 from fission products and from each other. This process could isolate uranium-233 for weapons development and also for use as fuel in the proposed thorium breeder reactors.
Molten-salt reactor experiments continued at the Laboratory through the 1960s and into the early 1970s. In 1969, Keith Brown, David Crouse, Carlos Bamberger, and colleagues adapted molten-salt technology to the problem of breeding uranium-233 from thorium, which could be extracted from the virtually inexhaustible supply of granite rocks found throughout the earth’s crust. When bombarded by neutrons in the molten-salt reactor, thorium was converted to fissionable uranium-233, another nuclear fuel.
In December 1960, the AEC directed the Oak Ridge Laboratory to “turn its attention to developing a molten-salt reactor and thorium breeder“.
http://web.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev25-34/chapter4.shtml (Emphasis Added)
Further, as you can see, there is nothing really “new” about molten salt thorium reactors other than marketing. As in all fashion the same old stuff gets rehashed. We need new energy innovation and investment instead.
More Reading of Interest Regarding Thorium Reactors and Weapons Proliferation: http://wmdjunction.com/121031_thorium_reactors.htmhttps://www.princeton.edu/sgs/publications/sgs/pdf/9_1kang.pdf