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Power Science

Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel? 710

Posted by Soulskill
from the plenty-on-the-auction-house dept.
mrshermanoaks writes "When the choices for developing nuclear energy were being made, we went with uranium because it had the byproduct of producing plutonium that could be weaponized. But thorium is safer and easier to work with, and may cause a lot fewer headaches. 'It's abundant — the US has at least 175,000 tons of the stuff — and doesn't require costly processing. It is also extraordinarily efficient as a nuclear fuel. As it decays in a reactor core, its byproducts produce more neutrons per collision than conventional fuel. The more neutrons per collision, the more energy generated, the less total fuel consumed, and the less radioactive nastiness left behind. Even better, Weinberg realized that you could use thorium in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown. The design is based on the lab's finding that thorium dissolves in hot liquid fluoride salts. This fission soup is poured into tubes in the core of the reactor, where the nuclear chain reaction — the billiard balls colliding — happens. The system makes the reactor self-regulating: When the soup gets too hot it expands and flows out of the tubes — slowing fission and eliminating the possibility of another Chernobyl. Any actinide can work in this method, but thorium is particularly well suited because it is so efficient at the high temperatures at which fission occurs in the soup.' So why are we not building these reactors?"
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Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel?

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  • by wembley fraggle (78346) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:15PM (#30622986) Homepage

    These days, people only mine Thorium while they're working on getting their skill up to the Fel Iron and outlands level. One thing worth noting is that somewhere in the past few patches, they've made it so you can mine Fel Iron at 275, which is pretty nice. No more running around the Eastern Plaguelands looking for Rich Thorium Nodes for those last few points when you'd rather be in Hellfire Peninsula.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:19PM (#30623026)

    This is good news especially now that the unobtainium supplies have been cut off from Pandora.

  • Re:Problems (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:28PM (#30623106)

    Clearly one of the problems which should be obvious is that we are looking at cutting edge material technology to work at these temperatures and neutron fluxes !

    Well, duh. We didn't mention it because it was so obvious! Most slashdotters have known that crap from, like, CS 201.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by plover (150551) * on Saturday January 02, 2010 @12:33PM (#30623158) Homepage Journal

    This is good news especially now that the unobtainium supplies have been cut off from Pandora.

    We should have just nuked that planet from orbit, then swooped down and picked up the unobtainium from their hot, smurfy ashes.

    But no, they had to send in some hot-shot Colonel who had to prove how tough he was by taking them on in hand-to-hand combat, and in the process showing all the greenies just how cute and cuddly the smurfs were. Idiot. Now we can't touch their planet at all because of the outcries from the eco-nuts.

  • by andy1307 (656570) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:30PM (#30623826)
    Thank god for the Canadians and their CAN-DU attitude.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:53PM (#30624108)

    Profoundly argued. I particularly like the subtle, "... go die in a fucking fire..."

    You are a genius. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by malign (120557) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @02:00PM (#30624198) Homepage

    thorium? are we not on to saronite yet?

  • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @05:09PM (#30626080)
    No. What if a giant picks the reactor up and uses it to hammer pedestrians? Didn't think of that, did they? Failproof, my foot.
  • by Just Another Perl Ha (7483) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:46PM (#30627546) Journal
    Strangely enough... your statement seems to prove the "war for oil" argument rather than to disprove it... given the men who executed the plan.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:56PM (#30627624) Journal

    . And it is well known that Iran has actually not supported Hezbollah, contrary to popular American rhetoric.

    Absolutely. For some reason, however, some local Lebanese paramilitary groups were so pissed off about this non-existent Iranian presence in Lebanon (and their support for Hezbollah), that they've declared war on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - specifically, Kataeb (Falange) did so. Weird people...

    Also, Hezbollah are armed with such products of Iranian military complex as Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rocket artillery, and Ra'ad and Toophan AT missiles. Clearly those must be gifted to them by Allah's divine intervention, since we know that Hezbollah is not supported by Iran at all.

    Iranians are not suicidal virgin seekers.

    Indeed, and using volunteer militia to create passages through mine fields by means of human waves [newyorker.com] is a very good testament to that!

  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @01:24AM (#30629502)

    At the time, we had some reason to believe that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. Iraq was deliberately and obviously preventing the inspections that they had agreed to in their surrender in the Kuwait war. All Iraq had to do to prevent the new war was allow inspections. I even remember hearing claims that some Iraqi scientists were feeding Hussein stories that they were developing nuclear weapons, even when they weren't. They feared for their lives if they didn't tell him they were developing weapons. So even the Iraqis didn't know if they were making nukes, yet people call the US liars for using nukes as a reason for attacking. Also remember that there was a period of many months during which the US was massing troops to invade Iraq. Nobody who was paying attention doubted we were going to do it. Iraq could have buried or shipped out of the country anything they wanted to hide in maybe two days, and they had MONTHS to do it.

    Was it the right choice? Would we be better off now if Hussein and his tribe were still in power? Could we have done something else to displace Hussein or make him impotent? Beats me.

    Oil was a consideration. A dangerous dictatorship was another consideration. Perform for yourself this thought experiment: would we attack Canada if Canada declared it would no longer export oil to the US? How long would the US president remain in office if he tried a fool stunt like that? That should answer the claim that it's all about oil.

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