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Cameco Corporation Message Board

  • dwight_carmela dwight_carmela Aug 1, 2005 2:21 PM Flag

    Another way CCJ

     
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    • Sparky-

      I am a bit surprised you jumped all over this idea.

      I thought a lot about this previously, and suspect it is correct--Thorium is the future, in a sense.

      Why Th? Because Th232 is fertile and can be bred to fissile U233 **in situ** in the fuel rod assemblies. I have heard (but here a slip from physics to nuke engineering, where I know less) that with a bit of modification Th assemblies with Pu or U235 seed rods could be used in something resembling prsent day PWR reactors. I don't think the whole nuclear infrastructure has to be overthrown.

      The advantages? As you know with U only the small fraction (0.7%) that is U235 is used presently. And given tails, we only extract and use about 0.4%. All the rest of U (U238) is useless, unless we go to fast neutron breeders and reprocessing. This could be done, and would stretch nuke fuel supplies greatly, but here you DO have to bring up a whole new infrastructure--fast breeders and reprocessing plant--assuming you can get a favorable political climate. In contrast, in a Th to U reactor, almost ALL of the Th gets burned up. The burnup numbers greatly exceed U reactor numbers like 33 GWed/tonne. Th fuel assemblies can stay in the reactor for up to 15 years!

      The in situ breeding of Th232 to U233 uses slow neutrons, and can be done in, as a mentioned, somewhat modified versions of existing reactors. If Pu is the seed, some reprocessing is necessary but not on the scale of a fast U238 economy. Of course, you canstretch supplies even further by reprocessing the Th assemblies and extracting residual U233 and other fissionables. But you can get started without that.

      As I look out at the dire forecasts for post peak oil, I become convinced that we are going to have to sprout reactors like mad. If we do so, peak U235 will start to stare us in the face. Moving to Th as soon as we can will put the day of peak nuke energy far in the future. Time enough for your dream (and mine) of fusion reactors to become reality.

      Way I see it. Happy to hear what I may be missing.

    • Great post sparky! It's amazing what a little common sense can do. It's one thing to dream, but just because someone writes an article on what thorium could do, doesn't mean that it's going to happen in our lifetime! But, maybe getting in today, could be a nice investment to leave for our great great grandchildren!

 
CCJ
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