Energy Content of Thorium

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When a LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) is used to extract energy from thorium, we could effectively “burn rocks” for energy.

Imagine a cube, perhaps roughly the size of a small car.  In order to see the tiny amount of thorium that would be contained within the average dirt pile, we need to zoom in.

Thorium is only ~0.001% in an average pile of dirt, but it packs in so much energy, that – using LFTR, it contains the equivalent energy content of 30 times the amount of crude oil, compared to the size of the original dirt cube!

Thorium Energy Content Merged Final

Click here if you want to see the math in detail for a cubic meter of dirt.

 

TEAC4

 

. Kirk Sorensen – A Global Alternative (thorium energy via LFTR) @ TEAC4Kirk Sorensen - A Global Alternative (thorium energy via LFTR) @ TEAC4

LFTR offers greater efficiency and safety over today’s operating reactors, and even proposed light water / boiling water reactors. LFTR also provides spare processes heat and valuable isotopes as a byproduct of normal operation, something today’s reactors can not, due to their low operating temperature.

 

. Baroness Bryony Worthington – Political Challenges of Thorium Molten Salt Reactors @ TEAC4Baroness Bryony Worthington - Political Challenges of Thorium Molten Salt Reactors @ TEAC4

Bryony Worthington encourages thorium proponents to work with existing environmental organizations, emphasizing the need for renewable energy until LFTR is ready for deployment.

 

 John Kutsch – Why of Thorium & the Way Forward @ TEAC4John Kutsch - Why of Thorium & the Way Forward @ TEAC4

John Kutsch, the director of Thorium Energy Alliance, summarizes outcome of his (and Jim Kennedy’s) political endeavors since TEAC3.

 

Magdi Ragheb – Thorium Fuel Cycle Using Electrostatic & Electrodynamic Neutron Generators @ TEAC4Magdi Ragheb - Thorium Fuel Cycle Using Electrostatic & Electrodynamic Neutron Generators @ TEAC4

 

Joe Bonometti – Thorium Education & Outreach @ TEAC4Joe Bonometti - Thorium Education & Outreach @ TEAC4

Joe Bonometti on the opportunity to expand an Albuquerque nuclear power museum to include coverage of Molten Salt Reactors.

 

Canon Bryan – Structural Concerns with Nuclear Fuel Supply @ TEAC4Canon Bryan - Structural Concerns with Nuclear Fuel Supply @ TEAC4

Canon argues that thorium based fuel cycle can alleviate USA’s vulnerability to imminent uranium supply crisis, as western nations start competing with China, Russia, Korea & Middle East for nuclear fuel.

 

Alex Cannara – Ionizing Radiation & Health @ TEAC4Alex Cannara - Ionizing Radiatoin & Health @ TEAC4

Alex gives overview of our current inadvertent terraform, focusing on ocean acidification as highest potential for near-term disaster. The urgency of addressing this problem is contrasted with mus-information and poor policy surrounding the effects of radiation. Linear no-threshold is examined.

 

Alex Cannara – Linear No-Threshold Radiation Lies @ TEAC4Alex Cannara - Linear No-Threshold Radiation Lies @ TEAC4

This is a portion of Alex Cannara’s TEAC4 presentation, focusing elusively on the effects of radiation, and that misinformation have been used to guide government policy, and also mislead the public as to the effects of exposure to small amounts of radiation.

 

David LeBlanc – Molten Salt Reactor Designs, Options & Outlook @ TEAC4David LeBlanc - Molten Salt Reactor Designs, Options & Outlook @ TEAC4

Canadian David LeBlanc describes the benefits of liquid fuel Molten Salt Reactors over solid fuel reactors, emphasizing reactor design over any relative advantages of thorium or uranium.  Come for the thorium, stay for the reactor!

 

David Earnshaw – How the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor LFTR could boost Wyoming’s Economy @ TEAC4David Earnshaw - How the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor LFTR could boost Wyoming's Economy @ TEAC4

David Earnshaw – How the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor could boost Wyoming’s Economy @ TEAC4

 

Kim Johnson – Thorium Molten Salt Science for Industrial Allies @ TEAC4Kim Johnson - Thorium Molten Salt Science for Industrial Allies @ TEAC4

Kim Johnson reviews what industries can benefit from Molten Salt Reactor process heat, such as Oil Sands, Natural Gas and Airlines. Interesting anecdotal evidence of particular contacts expressing interest.

 

Jim Kennedy – Link Between Thorium and Self Reliance in Rare Earths & Energy @ TEAC4Jim Kennedy - Link Between Thorium and Self Reliance in Rare Earths & Energy @ TEAC4

The western world has within its capacity far more than enough rare earths (including heavy rare earths) to meet its own industrial demand. It is an unwillingness to process material containing thorium which is ultimately impeding our high tech manufacturing sector.

 

John Kutsch – Welcome to Thorium Energy Alliance Conference #4 – TEAC4John Kutsch - Welcome to Thorium Energy Alliance Conference #4 - TEAC4

John Kutsch welcomes you to TEAC4 – Thorium Energy Alliance’s Conference #4, which was held in Chicago on May 31st and June 1st of 2012.

 

Joe Bonometti – Liquid, Modular & Thorium as the End Goal – Systems Analyst on MSR/LFTR @ TEAC4Joe Bonometti - Liquid, Modular & Thorium as the End Goal - Systems Analyst on MSR/LFTR @ TEAC4

Joe Bonometti summarized issues to discus at Thorium Energy Alliance’s 4th conference in Chicago.

 

Dr. David LeBlanc – Molten Salt Reactors, Canada, and the Athabasca Oil Sands @ TEAC4Dr. David LeBlanc - Molten Salt Reactors, Canada, and the Athabasca Oil Sands @ TEAC4

Dr. David LeBlanc speaks about using a nuclear reactor to generate steam for SAGD projects in the oil sands. Excerpted from the full presentation David LeBlanc – Molten Salt Reactor Designs, Options & Outlook @ TEAC4

 

Eric Meyer chroma interview for THORIUM REMIX shot at TEAC4Eric Meyer chroma interview for THORIUM REMIX shot at TEAC4

Right before TEAC4 wrapped up, Eric has a moment to step in front of the chroma-key and talk about what drew him to thorium as an energy resource.  Eric also shares his thoughts on effective communication, and how emotion affects learning.

 

Takashi Kamei – Thorium MSR [Molten Salt Reactor] Research Activities in Japan @ TEAC4Takashi Kamei - Thorium MSR [Molten Salt Reactor] Research Activities in Japan @ TEAC4

Takashi Kamei traveled from Japan to share insight into improved safety precautions being applied to Japanese nuclear reactors, and the heightened interest in thorium molten salt reactors.  This video discusses Fukushima in detail and the extra safety measures now being taken.

 

Robert Steinhaus chroma interview shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4Robert Steinhaus chroma interview shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4

Rick Maltese shot Robert Steinhaus in front of the TEAC4 chroma-key.

 

Eric Robinson – Metal Face Seal, Multi Mate / Demate Torque Elimination Fittings @ TEAC4Eric Robinson - Metal Face Seal, Multi Mate / Demate Torque Elimination Fittings @ TEAC4

Eric Robinson spoke about fittings used in nuclear applications, including Curiosity Rover (powered by RTG’s 4.8 kg of Pu-238).

 

John Kutsch of Thorium Energy Alliance – Chroma-key interview 1 shot for Thorium Remix @ TEAC4John Kutsch of Thorium Energy Alliance - Chroma-key interview 1 shot for Thorium Remix @ TEAC4

John Kutsch steps in front of the chroma-key at TEAC4. Is thorium valuable? What do you do for a living? Sneeze. What are you trying to accomplish?

 

Richard Martin, author of Superfuel, discusses Thorium & LFTR – shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4Richard Martin, author of Superfuel, discusses Thorium & LFTR - shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4

Richard Martin explains what drew him to thorium as a solution to our energy crisis, and why “big challenges” are not being tackled today as they were during WW2 and the cold war.

 

John Kutsch of Thorium Energy Alliance – Chroma-key interview 2 shot for Thorium Remix @ TEAC4John Kutsch of Thorium Energy Alliance - Chroma-key interview 2 shot for Thorium Remix @ TEAC4

John Kutsch on why thorium is important to him: As North Americans we consume a lot of energy. We don’t get to continue this lifestyle without a new source of energy.

 

Jim Kennedy – China, Espionage & [lack of] US Industrial Policy @ TEAC4Jim Kennedy - China, Espionage & [lack of] US Industrial Policy @ TEAC4

Jim Kennedy shared his thoughts (while standing in front of a chroma-key) on United States unwillingness to address China’s industrial espionage against Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) in [likely] pursuit of Molten Salt Reactor technology.  Jim asks: Is the Department of Energy intentionally facilitating Th-MSR technology transfer to China?

 

Takashi Kamei offers a pro-thorium perspective from Japan shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4Takashi Kamei offers a pro-thorium perspective from Japan shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4

Takashi Kamei is working on molten salt reactor design in Japan, and an accelerator to bypass need for fissile. First neutron will be available in 2014.

 

Simon Irish – Developed World Debt Levels Demand Power & Energy Revolution @ TEAC4Simon Irish - Developed World Debt Levels Demand Power & Energy Revolution @ TEAC4

We need a profound revolution in the way power is generated and delivered to our economies – cheap power, modular power, clean power. We need a revolution in power innovation, we need a new stream engine. – Simon Irish

 

Mark Halper – Emerging Nuclear Innovations / Race to Reinvent Nuclear Energy @ TEAC4 Mark Halper - Emerging Nuclear Innovations / Race to Reinvent Nuclear Energy @ TEAC4

Mark (writer for Smartplanet) contrasts thorium molten salt reactors with Bill Gates’ TerraPower, General Atomics, QPower (pebble bed) and other companies pursuing modular reactors. China itself could build as many as 100 reactors by 2030, and is actively pursuing a wide range of nuclear technologies (100 companies).

 

Richard Martin – Risk, Decline & the Future of Energy @ TEAC4 Richard Martin - Risk, Decline & the Future of Energy @ TEAC4

Richard was one of the first energy experts to promote the development of thorium (in Wired Magazine). SuperFuel explains how we can wean ourselves off our fossil-fuel addiction, deliver a safe energy source for a millennia, and avert the risk of catastrophic climate change.

 

Stuart Henderson – Thorium Energy from Accelerator Driven Reactors @ TEAC4 Stuart Henderson - Thorium Energy from Accelerator Driven Reactors @ TEAC4

Of the 3 options for creating energy from thorium (solid fuel in conventional reactors, liquid fuel in molten-salt reactors, or fuel in accelerator driven subcritical reactors), Stuart Henderson of Fermilab explores the accelerator driven approach.

 

Ondrej Chvala – Importance of Higher Education in MSR R&D and Development @ TEAC4 Ondrej Chvala - Importance of Higher Education in MSR R&D and Development @ TEAC4

Credible experts are mandatory for all steps of Molten Salt Reactor research, development and deployment. Very few people are available with both credentials and working knowledge of MSRs.

 

Charles Holden – Thorenco’s Process Heat Reactor / Liquefy Through Thorium @ TEAC4 Charles Holden - Thorenco's Process Heat Reactor / Liquify Through Thorium @ TEAC4

Charles “Rusty” Holden presents a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor design which emphasizes safety and regulatory compliance. Estimated output is 200 Megawatts.

 

Michael – Student Designers of Molten Salt Reactor Components @ TEAC4 Michael - Student Designers of Molten Salt Reactor Components @ TEAC4

Student Chapters of Thorium Energy Alliance helping with design.

 

Cavan Stone shares his interest in thorium as an energy source – shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4Cavan Stone shares his interest in thorium as an energy source - shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4

Cavan compares coal-tar to thorium, as a waste product nobody wanted which turned out to be extremely valuable. There’s going to be a major geopolitical shift towards the countries which develop thorium energy. Liquid fuel provides passive safety options.

 

Ondrej Chvala a Nuclear Engineering post-doc at University of Tennessee Knoxville for THORIUM REMIX Ondrej Chvala a Nuclear Engineering post-doc at University of Tennessee Knoxville for THORIUM REMIX

Ondřej observes lack of expertise in molten salt reactors (from people who are not retired or dead) is holding back development of this technology. Molten Salt Reactors are not taught as part of today’s nuclear curriculum.

 

Jim Kennedy – Link Between Thorium and Self Reliance in Rare Earths & Energy @ TEAC4 remix Jim Kennedy - Link Between Thorium and Self Reliance in Rare Earths & Energy @ TEAC4 remix

The western world has within its capacity far more than enough rare earths (including heavy rare earths) to meet its own industrial demand. It is an unwillingness to process material containing thorium which is ultimately impeding our high tech manufacturing sector.

 

Stephen Boyd – Rare Earth Elements, History, Chemistry, Physics & Applications Stephen Boyd - Rare Earth Elements, History, Chemistry, Physics & Applications

Fluorine chemist Stephen Boyd discusses rare earth fluoride doped salts, and why they are represented separately from the rest of the elements on the periodic table.

 

Darryl Siemer – Vitrification of Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycle Radwastes Darryl Siemer - Vitrification of Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycle Radwastes

Darryl runs inexpensive vitrification experiments in his basement on how to best prepare nuclear waste for storage.  Glassification is simpler & cheaper to fabricate than hot-pressed ceramics.

 

Alex Cannara’s environmentalist critique of low density energy sources and appeal of thorium @ TEAC4 Alex Cannara's environmentalist critique of low density energy sources and appeal of thorium @ TEAC4

Alex Cannara on the importance of nuclear power’s high energy density, and the advantage of thorium as a source of nuclear power.  Low energy density energy sources such as solar and wind have a significant environmental impact unless deployed on land already being used for other purposes, though rooftop solar gives an efficient use of space.

 

Rick Maltese – Support a Nuke Song @ TEAC4 Rick Maltese - Support a Nuke Song @ TEAC4

Rick Maltese wrapped up Thorium Energy Alliance Conference #4 with a song about nuclear power. He’s posted lyrics and a better sounding copy as a digital download here http://rickmaltese.bandcamp.com/

 

Richard Martin (author of SuperFuel) and John Kutsch say “bye” shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4 Richard Martin (author of SuperFuel) and John Kutsch say "bye" shot for THORIUM REMIX @ TEAC4

Richard Martin briefly mentions success to John Kutsch before departing TEAC4.  Superfuel sold over 1000 copies.

 

John Kutsch – Wrap-Up @ TEAC4 John Kutsch - Wrap-Up @ TEAC4

John Kutsch bids farewell to Thorium Energy Alliance Conference #4 attendees.

 

 Hope you enjoyed TEAC4!  

 

 

 

 

About LFTR – Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors

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You wouldn’t use a 20 year old cellphone, so why are we using 20+ year old nuclear technology?  The curious reason we are, is because it works, but we could be doing so much better.

Here is the short overview on LFTR and Thorium (the fuel of the future):

 

Thorium

– Element 90, found as Thorium 232 in nature, is 4 times more common than Uranium and about 200-400x more common than U-235, the fuel we burn in Light Water Reactors (LWRs) in the US and much of the world.  That’s just the start…

– Thorium is naturally radioactive like uranium, and has a half-life equal to the age of the universe (about 15 billion years) so it will be with us for a long time

– It is found in large quantities in “Rare Earth” mines, which are rare in the US because they dig up Thorium.  Thorium is (weakly) radioactive, and US law requires it be treated as a radioactive waste and buried.  Too much Thorium in a rare earth mine makes it unprofitable, but it is these rare earth mines that bring up the high technology metals we need in society today, such as Neodymium for magnets (think generators and motors).

– A LWR (Light Water Reactor) in the US burns about 0.5%-5% of the fuel put in it, the remaining is disposed of as unburned fuel as part of the radioactive waste.  A LFTR on the other hand, running from Thorium could burn 100% of the fuel

– Because it can all be consumed, if you held a marble a little over an inch across (~3 cm) made of Thorium, it could power your entire (western world) needs for your entire life. (more:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbGZ_Y-xkPM)

– The “waste” products are far less than that of the Light Water Reactor technology used today.  Also, the amount of mining is far less – and a natural result of a rare earth mine (see above).  (more: http://energyfromthorium.com/2007/01/09/uranium-vs-thorium-mining-processing-waste-generation/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor#Economy_and_efficiency)

– The byproducts of a LFTR are radioactive, but contain few “transuranic” elements – which would be radioactive for a very long time.  Instead, much of the “waste” could be recycled into useful products after a month or a few years of cooling off, and by about 100 years, much of the radioactivity is gone.

– There is less risk of proliferation with LFTR (Thorium) fuel, since Thorium doesn’t fission in of itself, and stolen active LFTR fuel would contain U232 (a natural byproduct of the LFTR process, not required to be added).  U232 is very radioactive and would damage electronics and irradiate the people stealing it, and make any stolen material easy to find.

 

LFTR – Liquid Fueled Thorium Reactor  (A molten-salt reactor using thorium)

– A LFTR is a different kind of reactor.  It was invented during the 1950s and 1960s in Oak Ridge Labs, but was quickly abandoned since the nuclear reactions were found to be not good for bomb-making. (more: http://youtu.be/bbyr7jZOllI?t=1m6s)

– Since the focus was on bombs and Uranium originally, the infrastructure of LWRs (light water reactors) quickly grew and stabilized, ignoring Thorium technologies such as LFTR (more: http://youtu.be/bbyr7jZOllI?t=12m1s – hear the Nixon tape – very damning evidence, and a real shame).

– This kind of reactor can’t “melt down” as it is already liquid.  It runs in the 700°C [1300 °F] range giving far superior thermodynamic efficiency.  High pressure is nowhere near the core, since a hot salt loop transfers the heat to the generators.

– The reactor is designed with a “salt plug” in its base, cooled by a fan.  If power is ever lost, the system fan would shut down (due to lost power), and the plug melts, draining the fuel into a storage container where fission stops.  The fuel would also cool and solidify.  If there were ever a breach in the reactor, material would drain into the same tank.  Even if the tank broke, the fuel would simply solidify on the floor.  Safety can be done completely passively, no worries about hoping systems will be online when needed.   (more:  http://youtu.be/enjc4arwH7U?t=3m30s)

– The reaction has a natural “negative feedback”, which means that if demand for power grows, the reactor will run faster, but if it falls, it will reduce its output.  It also will run slower as it gets too hot, so more heat does not make the reaction go out of control, it actually slows the reaction (due to expansion making fission less likely).

– The fuel is cheap (see Thorium above), and since there is no high pressure, huge thick walls and buildings are not necessary.  This lowers the space and cost requirements of a building.

– Any nuclear fuel generates Xenon gas while in a reactor.  This gas slows reactions and in the case of LWRs and other solid fueled reactors that we use today, it cracks and damages the fuel pellets.  Since LFTRs are liquid, it simply bubbles out of solution.  It can also be collected, and in a few months is no longer radioactive and can be sold.  This is also one reason the fuel in our current LWRs is only 0.5%-5% consumed, because if it were to be left in longer, the expansion from this would damage the fuel tubes inside of the reactor.

– LFTRs can make isotopes of materials we desperately need.  Mo-99 is needed by hospitals for radiation treatments, Pu238 is needed by NASA for space missions to the outer reaches of the solar system, and Bi213 for new targeted (Leukemia and Pancreas) cancer treatments. (more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2at8C8YrX80)

– LFTRs can also burn radioactive “waste” we are currently storing, made from the LWR units of today.  We could actually reduce our radioactive waste using LFTRs and other Molten-Salt Reactors (MSRs) (more:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1fqB6p9pgM).

– China is already working on LFTR technology and stockpiling Thorium.  India is working on Thorium for solid fueled reactors, but will probably move to LFTR as a natural part of that research. (more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor#Recent_developments)

 

Did you know?

– A typical coal burning plant emits far more radioactivity into the air than any nuclear plant.  Nuclear plants keep their fuels inside the building, but the smoke from coal contains all manner of poisonous materials (mercury, cadmium, etc) and several naturally radioactive ones such as Uranium and Thorium.  These materials are fairly safe as rocks, but as a breathable dust, not so much.

– Nuclear power is over 1,000,000 times more energy dense than burning fossil fuels.  The comparison is nuclear energy to that of a carbon-hydrogen bond. (more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG2jN–D2Es – See a visit to Arizona’s Palo Verde Energy Education Center outdoor exhibits)

– US current needs for energy burn a rail car of coal about every 1-3 seconds.  That’s about 100 tons per rail car.

– There have been far more deaths from coal mining than all nuclear power accidents combined. (more:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E2GTg7W7Rc – graphs at 2m:40s)