Friday, May 8, 2015

Future of the nuclear power - Thorium , reprocessing and non-proliferation

Many guy around the net/written paper arguing about the future and benefit of the Thorium fuel cycle,  new reactor designs and so on.

Anyone who considering the Thorium as the near future of the nuclear power doesn't know the political motivation of the  governments around the world.

See Iran : they playing within the limits of the Nuclear non-proliferation rules ,but say no one likes them too much at the moment.

All that they try to do is to develop a full, fuel cycle with enrichment .

One important point: Iran doesn't has reprocessing capability, all noise / moaning from the US coming due to low enrichment capacity.

So see the Thorium fuel cycle in this light.

Why Thorium?

The main benefit of the Thorium is not connected to the abundance of it.
If we compare the thorium to the uranium (238) then the most important is from the u238 if one neutron captured by it then it will transmuted to Pu239.

If  Thorium 232  capture a neutron then if will transmuted to Uranium 233.

Both of them fissile, so if they get a neutron then there is high chance to split the nucleus, and generate new neutrons to sustain the reaction, but the U233 has HIGHER chance than the Pu239.

If the nucleus is not split , then it will became either u234 or Pu240, neither of them fissile .

But the chance higher for the Pu.

So essentially the breeding ratio of the reaction better, for each neutron you get more neutron with U233 than with Pu239.

It means that you can modify the current light water reactors (used everywhere around the world) to closed Thorium cycle.

BUT we have Iran.

Closed cycle means reprocessing capability.

That is only one step away from the bomb material.

Other interesting, promising technology:

Molten salt reactor.

Light, non pressurised ,cheap, and has high efficiency.

It is the only reactor type, where the fuel is accessible during the cycle for reprocessing, so it possible to remove all Caesium ,Strontium so on from it that can contaminate the environment in the event of accident.

But here is the non-proliferation risk in one world: continuous reprocessing.

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