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Thorium (19/08/19 18:23:06)
    It seems that the acceptability of fossil energy is slowly falling because it is a major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide which is under suspicion of causing or aggravating the global warming (seen as ice cap melting and shrinkage of glaciers). Solar and wind power need large areas and are environmentally destructive like hydroelectric power - so some think nuclear power is the answer. Well, uranium-powered reactors also produce large amounts of radioactive waste. Let's use thorium instead, says people. No radioactive waste, no attractive potential bomb materials produced - so how hard can it be?

    "Other impediments to the development of thorium fuel cycle are the higher cost of fuel fabrication and the cost of reprocessing to provide the fissile plutonium driver material. The high cost of fuel fabrication (for solid fuel) is due partly to the high level of radioactivity that builds up in U-233 chemically separated from the irradiated thorium fuel. Separated U-233 is always contaminated with traces of U-232 which decays (with a 69-year half-life) to daughter nuclides such as thallium-208 that are high-energy gamma emitters. Although this confers proliferation resistance to the fuel cycle by making U-233 hard to handle and easy to detect, it results in increased costs. There are similar problems in recycling thorium itself due to highly radioactive Th-228 (an alpha emitter with two-year half life) present. Some of these problems are overcome in the LFTR or other molten salt reactor and fuel cycle designs, rather than solid fuel."


    (updated February 2017)

    In the meantime the Norwegian test reactor has been decommissioned. It is estimated that dismantling it will cost 1.8 x 10e9 €.

    The main cost of nuclear energy is the building of the reactor, says the article.

    So maybe thorium isn't the solution that will save us.

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