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thorium


Thorium
Thorium was named after Thor, the Norse god of Thunder. Thorium is naturally radioactive and in its pure form and has a silvery white metallic color. Thorium has an atomic number of 90 and is known to have at least twenty seven different radioisotopes. The most common compound of thorium ore is Monazite. A key initiative for many countries energy development plan is to generate power from thorium. Energy from thorium is safer than Uranium as Thorium will not sustain a nuclear chain reaction, which is the main reason for nuclear meltdowns.
Thorium Reactor
Thorium Reactor Technology is similar to other nuclear reactor technology. The heat generated by the radioactive decay inside the reaction chamber of the Thorium Reactor is used to heat a clean and controlled fluid. That fluid is then used to heat water and to generate steam. In Molten Salt Reactors there is an additional heat transfer step to generate thorium power. Thorium Energy produces much less waste than Uranium energy and is much safer.
thorium reactor technology


thorium mine


Thorium Mining
Thorium can be found on every continent. When you compare the abundance of thorium to all isotopes of Uranium, Thorium is more than 3 times as abundant. When compared to fuel grade Uranium, fuel grade Thorium is several hundred times more abundant. Thorium Ore Mining is taking place all over the world as a natural byproduct of current mines extracting rare earth elements. Thorium Deposits consist of several compounds are found, three of which are Thorite, Thorianite, and Monazite. Monazite the most common thorium deposit containing thorium consists of about 2.5% Thorium.
Thorium Fuel
Thorium 232 is the isotope that is used to create thorium fuel. Thorium as a nuclear fuel is extremely cost effective and efficient. Thorium 232 represents all but trace amounts of known thorium on earth. This means that after the extraction, concentration and refining processes, thorium does not have to be enriched like uranium. This also means that there isnít near as much radioactive waste left behind. Thorium as Nuclear Fuel is something that is currently being developed by several countries and could pose a viable energy source in the future.
thorium fuel


Liquid Thorium Reactor
A Liquid thorium reactor refers to Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR). These reactors use a molten salt to house the reactive material (in this case thorium), this type of reactor can maintain a high temperature at atmospheric pressure. This technology has been around since the 1960s and is a viable method for using Thorium to create energy. The most impressive part of this liquid thorium technology is that theoretically upwards of 50% of the heat energy generated in the reaction can be recovered and converted to power.


thorium Nuclear
Thorium Nuclear
Thorium is found in the actinide series of elements in the periodic table. Thorium and Uranium are the most abundant elements of the actinide series and have existed on earth since the beginning of time. All of elements in the actinide series are radioactive and will decay over time. In thorium nuclear power generation radioactive decay produces heat which eventually generates steam. Then the steam is used to turn a steam turbine and generate electricity. Thorium Reactor Research has shown that the Thorium Fuel Cycle can be used safely to accomplish energy generation.


Thorium Reactor Problems
Thorium Reactor Problems are several. First, a thorium reactor currently cannot be used to economically produce weapons grade radioactive material. To some this is a benefit, to others it is a problem. Second, using LFTR reactors, which seem to be the most promising, require the use of highly toxic salts in the molten salt mixture. This would need to be extensively contained. Finally, the best field data that we have on thorium reactors was produced in the 1960s and the cost to build prototypes today is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, so this makes most of the current feasibility discussion an intellectual debate.


Thorium and Uranium
Thorium and Uranium can both be used in current reactor designs. As thorium decays it produces Uranium. One of the major differences between Thorium 232 and Uranium 235 is that Uranium 235 has to be controlled so that it will not overheat and melt the facility down. Thorium 232 actually has to be controlled in order to keep the material reacting. That means that Thorium by default would shut itself down. Uranium by default would melt the facility to the ground. Also, after Uranium is mined, it has to be separated into different isotopes to be used as fuel, and once separated only a small fraction can be used as fuel. The waste difference between uranium and thorium is shown to the left.


thorium uranium
thorium company
Thorium Companies
Most mining companies that are mining rare earth metals are mining thorium. Most often the thorium is mined and separated with other waste materials and disposed of in tailings facilities and waste dump sites. Thorium Companies are scarce. Currently the major projects in Thorium reactor technology are being done by countries, two of which are India and Germany. India, having a large share of the world thorium reserves is developing a strategy to produce a significant percentage of its power from thorium by the year 2050.

thorium 232

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