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Norway Begin Testing Thorium in Nuclear Reactors

By Joao Peixe | Wed, 12 December 2012 22:51 | 4

Norway is the biggest oil producer in Europe, and the 13th largest producer in the world, yet this fact does not stop it from pursing an alternative source of energy for producing electricity domestically.

That is not to say that it will dump fossil fuels, the energy switch that it is hoping to make is from uranium nuclear power plants, to thorium nuclear power plants.

Thor Energy will team up with the Norwegian government and Westinghouse of the US to begin a four year test which will determine whether or not thorium is a viable alternative to uranium. The test will occur at the government controlled nuclear reactor in Halden.

For decades supporters of thorium have argued that it is superior to uranium in every way, yet nearly all of the world’s nuclear reactors have been designed around uranium. Thorium reacts more efficiently than uranium, the resultant radioactive waste has a much shorter half-life, due to its very high melting point nuclear meltdowns are impossible, and no plutonium is produced in the reaction, therefore it cannot be used to create nuclear weapons.

Related Article: Clinton Shills for Westinghouse Nuclear Project in Czechoslovakia

Whilst many proclaim that molten salt reactors are the best type of reactor for thorium fuel, none currently exist or have received regulatory approval. Thor Energy will test the thorium in a heavy water reactor at Halden. The reaction may not be as efficient as possible, but for the fact that the reactor has already been officially approved the testing can begin right away rather than waiting years for a molten salt reactor to be built, checked and approved.

Really what the Norwegians will be looking to determine is whether or not the benefits of using thorium justify the cost of switching to it as a fuel source.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • E.G. on May 16 2014 said:
    Apropos of some of the anti-Thorium comments; most of them have been copied and pasted from other sources. A quick Google search with the obviously different text shows this to be a fact. You can spot this when the flow, punctuation and language in the comment changes and its plagiarism.
    Now, do you actually KNOW these statements as FACTS or do you BELIEVE them hence subscribe to them. Assertions are not facts, copied and pasted “statements” that are not even yours even less so.
    I will pop back and quote your sources if you want me to.
  • Mel Tisdale on December 14 2012 said:
    I am in no position to query Mr Carlin's obvious knowledge of nuclear reactions. The only comment that I would like to make is that there are a lot of equally knowledgeable, at least one assumes that they are equally knowledgeable (and in some cases considerably experienced nuclear industry) people - Kirk Sorensen for example - who are very enthusiastic about LFTRs (thorium reactors).

    What excites me about LFTRs is that, assuming that they work, of course, they can be located almost anywhere because they do not need to be near copious quantities of water. This means not only that they can be located well away from any tsunamis that might occur, but also are drought resistant, which we know is going to become increasingly important as the climate changes.

    That LFTRs are no use in making nuclear weapons opens up the possibility of their being located in other countries, perhaps even ones that are not what one would call 'friendly'. I doubt that Iran would be receiving the attention it currently does if its nuclear programme were LFTR based instead of uranium based. That being so, a LFTR programme could even be U.N. funded with a view to enabling their introduction worldwide as an attempt to combat climate change. I think that is called a 'win win' situation in modern management speak.

    Surely the most important advantages of LFTRs are that they are inherently safe and that they can 'load follow', which enables their support of 'here today, gone tomorrow' renewables. Both advantages might shut the Green brigade up, but that is a very big 'might', of course, especially with 'ash dieback' across Europe meaning that they will have fewer trees to hug and gain comfort from. We can only offer them our deepest commiserations on their loss.
  • Kama911 on December 14 2012 said:
    Your final sentence in the remarks above: "The benefits you attribute to thorium mainly arise when it is used in a Molten Salt Reactor with re-processing."

    You should have started, not end, with the above quote.

    Your comments do not address why all parties opining on the topic of energy needs, enviornmental concerns and anti-proliferation interests never even mentioned the word "thorium" for 65 years. Astonishing in a world supposedly desperate for abundant, inexpensive, clean, safe energy.

    Several fathers of the nuclear age did push for thorium's use from the beginning, especially Dr. Edward Teller, who advocated strongly for thorium for 25 years. One of Dr. Teller's last acts was,in the wake of the first oil crisis, to write a letter to President Nixon extolling the national security and health and safety benefits of thorium. He sent the letter a mere three days prior to his death in 1972.

    Certainly Thorium has been more than worthy of intense study and public discussion for over two generations. Instead from the top leaders of all these many and often opposed interests, the world heard only -- silence -- dead silence -- on this un-paralled opportunity and hope. This is disgusting and only demonstrates the the citizenry of the civilized, industrialized world place their lives in the hands of an staggeringly undeserving and vapid leadership structure.

    So thank you for the detailed information on the specifics of the by-products of thorium reactions in traditionally configured power plant. However, you gave no comparison of the amount hazardous waste from conventional reactor fuel and the relative and comparative safety on a host of important facets.

    However, the larger point is, evidently, entirely opaque to you.

    I have said for a generation and a half that if there has been a conspiracy hiding "free" or near free energy from the people of the world, the world would come to know of it when Third World countries with scientific heft, owing scant loyalty to the existing world order, come up with energy producing tools, products and techniques to provide a better life for their people. It seems that China and India may now indeed be poised with thorium to reveal such a truth.

    Thorium may be only the first shoe to drop. There may be other, even more astounding "free" energy shoes waiting to drop with a much louder thud when hitting the ground.
  • George Carlin on December 13 2012 said:
    Thorium will never be a replacement for uranium because it is not fissile, it is fertile. This is obvious when you look at how thorium works in a reactor: Thorium-232 + neutron -> Thorium-233 which beta decays to Protactinium-233 which then also beta decays to Uranium-233. U-233 is fissile and is what is fissioned to produce heat and more neutrons.

    So, using Thorium does not change the fact that Uranium is still fissioning to produce heat.

    Another thing, a reactor that is going to use Th to produce heat (through the reaction above) needs a load of fissile to produce neutrons to start the reaction above. Therefore, unless you use pure U-235 or U-233 with no U-238 to start the reactor, you will produce Pu. Assuming an initial U-235/238 fissile load, you must reprocess the spent fuel and stick it in a fast reactor or you will still end up with long lived transuranics.

    The benefits you attribute to thorium mainly arise when it is used in a Molten Salt Reactor with re-processing.

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