Uranium is so Last Century

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Seriously this article from wired is the bomb. If you're curious about a potential future energy source (with a fuel you could actually carry in you pocket, no harmful side effects), meet Thorium, everybody!

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nukes/
Edited by FoxyMayhem on 5/3/2011 11:14 AM PDT
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Neat! Now if only we can break the petroleum economy... :-P
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If it's better, then capitalism will have it all over the place as soon as it can.
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This is something Japan may really want to take a look at. Fascinating!
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Pretty cool idea with the Thorium, interested to see how that will develop :)
Edited by SMKody on 5/3/2011 11:59 AM PDT
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05/03/2011 11:39 AMPosted by Astrai
If it's better, then capitalism will have it all over the place as soon as it can.


This is not true at all.

Any new technology, especially one of this type, is going to a period of heavy expense associated with it in order to build necessary infrastructure.

Right now, petroleum based products are cheap to use, and the infrastructure to take advantage of them is in place.

Building new plants requires a hefty short term investment, which companies are by and large unwilling to undertake.

It is difficult to go against the grain, as it were; and this is exactly what governments should be there to facilitate (among other things, of course).

I like this guy.
You just took the words right out of my mouth. This isn't the first time that's happened, either.
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This is really interesting. I had never even heard of the potential for thorium being used for nuclear power until you linked that article so thank you.
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dark matter is for the most part intangible and dark energy is vary week but potentially unlimited
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05/03/2011 04:45 PMPosted by TheEater
dark matter is for the most part intangible and dark energy is vary week but potentially unlimited


To be fair, we know pretty much nothing about it, its properties, the potential energy involved, etc. All we "know" is that it is a force existing in the universe, and that it helps us to understand why the universe is expanding evermore rapidly. Similarly, there is dark matter to consider.
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still need to consider the waste products of the reaction, even if it does only last a few hundred years. there needs to be a machine that decomposes these wastes really quickly, and maybe get some energy output
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Another interesting thing which I don't beleive was mentioned in that article; a thorium based nuclear reactor cannot metldown.

The thorium reaction itself doesn't produce enough heat to start a meltdown, and it requires an extra kick to get the thorium into a state in which it can undergo the necessary chain reaction for fission; turn off that kick, and the reaction stops.

(From what I've read on the subject, there are several different ideas for that, including mixing in plutonium or uranium with the thorium. The better idea for providing that is from the like of a particle accelerator aimed at the reaction chamber to provide the extra neutrons needed to kick start reaction. Turn off the accelerator, and the fuel falls below critical mass.)


I thought I would share some information. Nuclear meltdowns are not directly caused by the nuclear reaction. They are a byproduct of remaining heat and heat created by nuclear decay. (The decay is actually very slow nuclear fission.) This heat can remain for extended periods of time, even after the nuclear reaction has been stopped. A meltdown can only occur when the cooling system catastrophically fails. The nuclear fuel can then melt. This qualifies as a partial nuclear meltdown. The situation can degrade into a total nuclear meltdown where the fuel begins to melt through the protective casing and possibly through the containment structure.

Any explosions are actually a more common chemical reaction: the rapid burning of hydogen. Hydrogen is formed when water, the most common (if not only) coolant used because it can boil and become steam, comes into direct contact with the fuel and is not circulated. This effect is accelerated when certain contaminants, such as those found in sea water, are present.

Fun Fact! - The term "meltdown" is not actually used in the scientific field or in the nuclear power industry. I came into social use because the media heard the term and has yet to move on to a new term.

To those who wonder if it is a bad idea to purposefully create high levels of heat, nuclear reactors are nothing more than coal plants with a nuclear reaction substituting the burning of coal.

If you are interested this information can be found on howstuffworks.com. More specifically:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-meltdown.htm
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An even better idea is a Nuclear Fusion reactor.

Since it really only requires helium and Deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) (both extremely common elements) its almost an endless supply of power. Plus it can't melt down and produces a load more energy than Nuclear Fission with thorium OR uranium.
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An even better idea is a Nuclear Fusion reactor.

Since it really only requires helium and Deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) (both extremely common elements) its almost an endless supply of power. Plus it can't melt down and produces a load more energy than Nuclear Fission with thorium OR uranium.



Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that with our current level of technology, we spend more energy to start and sustain a fusion reaction than it gives back to us. That's why we are still using fission based nuclear reactors, or so I thought.
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An even better idea is a Nuclear Fusion reactor.

Since it really only requires helium and Deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) (both extremely common elements) its almost an endless supply of power. Plus it can't melt down and produces a load more energy than Nuclear Fission with thorium OR uranium.



Correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that with our current level of technology, we spend more energy to start and sustain a fusion reaction than it gives back to us. That's why we are still using fission based nuclear reactors, or so I thought.


Yes, but they have made theoretical designs that would produce enough energy to sustain it, but they just don't have enough money to test them all.
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Thorium breeder reactors imo are the wave of the future, especially for critical infrastructure such as hospitals and military establishments. Not having to recycle your fuel is a major leap forward for nuclear technology.
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Capitolism is the best economic system there is, other systems never work, and before you say something along the lines of Communist China has a strong economy so Communism must work, no China has a capitolist mindset as far as their economy goes. The USA built her fortune on capitolism, the real problems come in when you have Laissez-Faire capitolism cause you get monopolies and other bad economic situations.
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