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View Full Version : China Leads in Safer Thorium-based Nuclear Power - Private Sector Can't Solve World Energy Crisis



C. Flower
21-03-2011, 03:42 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/8393984/Safe-nuclear-does-exist-and-China-is-leading-the-way-with-thorium.html

There's an interesting article here, with a lot of apparently well-informed comments on the development of much safer thorium based nuclear power in China. India and the US are also showing interest in this future technology.

China it seems is able to make most progress because the research and development costs of new nuclear techologies are in the order of many billions, and the lead in before any return in decades. The private sector, on which the west relies, simply isn't able to make this order of long term investment.


I believe that this technology would be a much better prospect for research funding than the fusion project (we still don't even know if controlled fusion is possible). Unfortunately the investment needed to make a working prototype is too big even for large private companies, and would need state investment to get it off the ground. This runs counter to the current economic orthodoxy in the West, which is why it hasn't happened.

Is this not an indication that it isn't energy that's the problem, it's the limitations of economic systems based solely on private profits ?

Munnkeyman
21-03-2011, 04:48 PM
US DOE tried them in the sixties in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Shippingport Atomic Power Station also used the same technology.
They spent huge sums in cleanup costs removing the salt from these reactors, $130Million and $80Million and these were only small designs, 10MW and 60 MW respectively.

These plants will still use U-233 from a breeder cycle with Thorium as the base.
Essentially you still get left with the same by-products and explosions due to radiolysis could still occur.
There's a lot the article doesn't say about safety.........

C. Flower
21-03-2011, 05:03 PM
US DOE tried them in the sixties in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Shippingport Atomic Power Station also used the same technology.
They spent huge sums in cleanup costs removing the salt from these reactors, $130Million and $80Million and these were only small designs, 10MW and 60 MW respectively.

These plants will still use U-233 from a breeder cycle with Thorium as the base.
Essentially you still get left with the same by-products and explosions due to radiolysis could still occur.
There's a lot the article doesn't say about safety.........

I'll leave a reply to that to someone who would know what they are talking about as it's beyond me :)

I thought the comments were useful, in that they made it clear that a massive investment would be needed to make this a viable technology.

Are you saying you think there would be no safety advantages at all ?

Munnkeyman
21-03-2011, 05:28 PM
I'll leave a reply to that to someone who would know what they are talking about as it's beyond me :)

I thought the comments were useful, in that they made it clear that a massive investment would be needed to make this a viable technology.

Are you saying you think there would be no safety advantages at all ?

There definitely would be certain advantages alright.
They wouldn't be any where near the risk of current designs with respect to uncontrolled super-critical reactions, provided they are using Synchrotron or accelerator radiation
as the driver for the reactions, and not Uranium as the fissile supplement.
Accidents can and do happen......

But on a commercial level there would have to be a massive reprocessing effort as well to clean up all of the waste.
The IAEA go into it in good detail here
http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/te_1450_web.pdf

One of their big selling points is (and they devote a full chapter to it) is non proliferation of fissile material particularly Pu-239.
Therefore it's good for countries developing Nuclear power like Iran etc.;)
What the IAEA don't say though, is that, if you can use plutonium to build a nuclear bomb you could also use Uranium 233.