Can thorium be used for nuclear power?
Thorium is more abundant in nature than uranium. It is fertile rather than fissile, and can only be used as a fuel in conjunction with a fissile material such as recycled plutonium. Thorium fuels can breed fissile uranium-233 to be used in various kinds of nuclear reactors.
What is the thorium fuel cycle?
The thorium fuel cycle is the path that thorium transmutes through from fertile source fuel to uranium fuel ready for fission. Th-232 absorbs a neutron, transmuting it into Th-233. Th-233 beta decays to Pa-233 and finally undergoes a second beta minus decay to become U-233.
How long does thorium last in a reactor?
Thorium nuclear waste only stays radioactive for 500 years, instead of 10,000, and there is 1,000 to 10,000 times less of it to start with. Researchers have studied thorium-based fuel cycles for 50 years, but India leads the pack when it comes to commercialization.
Why are we not using thorium reactors?
Although in many ways thorium would be a better radioactive element to use for nuclear power, it’s also more difficult to weaponise than uranium. Uranium and plutonium have long been at the heart of nuclear power, but many experts see thorium as a better option.
Is thorium more efficient than uranium?
Thorium is safer and more efficient to mine than uranium, thus making it more environmentally friendly.  The percentage of thorium found in its ore is generally greater than the percentage of uranium found in its ore, so it is more cost-efficient.
Can thorium replace uranium?
One reason thorium is an interesting alternative to uranium is that it is cheaper and more abundant. Thorium is also used more efficiently in the reaction process — thorium inputs are almost completely used up during a nuclear reaction, meaning spent fuel or radioactive waste is reduced to a minimum.
Do thorium reactors produce waste?
The Th-U fuel cycle does not irradiate Uranium-238 and therefore does not produce transuranic (bigger than uranium) atoms like Plutonium, Americium, Curium, etc. These transuranics are the major health concern of long-term nuclear waste. Thus, Th-U waste will be less toxic on the 10,000+ year time scale.
What are the disadvantages of thorium?
What are the downsides of Thorium?
- We don’t have as much experience with Th.
- Thorium fuel is a bit harder to prepare.
- Irradiated Thorium is more dangerously radioactive in the short term.
- Thorium doesn’t work as well as U-Pu in a fast reactor.
Is there a working thorium reactor?
Aqueous Homogeneous Reactors (AHRs) have been proposed as a fluid fueled design that could accept naturally occurring uranium and thorium suspended in a heavy water solution. AHRs have been built and according to the IAEA reactor database, seven are currently in operation as research reactors.
Can thorium reactors meltdown?
Most importantly, meltdowns aren’t possible with thorium reactors because the reaction is not self-sustaining. That last safety advantage is also the main drawback of thorium. You need a little uranium and a neutron source to get the reaction kickstarted.