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THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal (English Edition) Format Kindle
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Technically, the molten salt purification system is the most intimidating and open-ended. One would boil off, at high temperatures, the highly radioactive fission fragments - the xenons, kryptons, iodines, strontium-90, cesium-137 and so forth. These are normally encapsulated in a LWR inside a ceramic fuel pellet inside a metal tube then stored underwater to be cooled as they decay and give off heat and radiation. In the thorium reactor, they would be separated from the molten salt and stored in tanks on-site. In LWR, the collected radwaste not inside the spent fuel is stored in tanks too but every plant has to perform an analysis of the off-site effects of a complete rupture and dispersal of the contents. These results are always far below dose limits at the plant boundary. The same analysis on the thorium waste stream will be much more difficult and would probably represent a non-trivial safety concern, at least.
The book is about three quarters broad policy and economic analysis of world energy supplies and options. The author is dead on in criticizing wind and solar as irrational. His use of concerns over CO2 emissions as justification for more nuclear is unfounded, in my opinion, even if the answer is correct.
His arguments about the urgency for replacing uranium as a reactor fuel with thorium seem a bit over-blown too. Certainly there is much more accessible thorium in the Earth's crust but we're looking at a surplus for many decades to come. Thorium is good, but not essential.
When I was first exposed to all the hullabaloo about thorium reactors, my first thought was that this was another Lyndon LaRouche effort, meant to distract from current needs to divert our energies to some utopian scheme thereby wasting time and resources. However, after giving this book a good read (and starting on the Oak Ridge technical documents) I am coming around to taking the idea seriously. In fact, I just received an assignment to do a technical review of the development and commercial challenges of the molten salt reactors for the trade journal, "Nuclear Engineering International." That said, if a serious restart of the program were underway, I might be one of the specialists brought in to make it happen. So far, it looks like a big job!
Electricity produced by the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, LFTR (lifter), is clean and safe. It is also unlimited and will be virtually forever, day and night, rain or shine. It is cheaper than coal, much cheaper when coal's hidden external costs are calculated. (The EPA estimates 34,000 untimely deaths per year in the US attributable to coal.)
The LFTR technology was invented, tested, and proven viable starting over half a century ago at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee. Then for political, not technical reasons, it was put on the shelf there during the Nixon administration where it remains. But other countries have recognized its value, especially China, and there are movements to restart development.But, sadly, not in this country.
LFTR gives all the answers the nation, and the world, can pose about the future of electric energy and answers them in every way better than any other mechanism or device yet invented, or likely ever to be invented, to produce electric power. And that is only the beginning of the manifold benefits of LFTR. Read Dr Hargraves' book and be amazed.
Robert Orr Jr
This book has good examples of the history and prospects for thorium. Especially notable is the approx. 400-scientist Chinese thorium R&D program and the Teller-Moir paper. Post-publication, the British magazine The Economist highlighted this energy resource with the cover page headline "The thunder in thorium" and in the article "Asgard's Fire." The following week, according to the back page of the magazine it was The Economist website's second most read article!
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