October 15, 2006

Norway considering Thorium reactors

Article from about Norway considering Thorium reactors

•There is no danger of a melt-down like the Chernobyl reactor
•It produces minimal radioactive waste
•It can burn Plutonium waste from traditional nuclear reactors with additional energy output
•It is not suitable for the production of weapon grade materials
•The energy contained in one kilogram of Thorium equals that of four thousand tons coal
•The global Thorium reserves could cover the world’s energy needs for thousands of years
•Norway has an estimated 180 000 tons of Thorium

They are looking to make a prototype over the next 15 years which will cost 550 million euros.

From Kirk Sorenson (thorium energy blog author): There were at least three different types of "fluid-fueled reactors" being considered by the AEC in the 1950s, each of which was a thorium reactor. (see "Fluid Fuel Reactors" or TID-8507, the AEC report downselecting to the liquid-fluoride (molten-salt) reactor). There were also the solid-core variants of thorium reactors. Most of these couldn't breed (convert as much thorium to U-233 as they consumed U-233) so they weren't truly thorium-burning reactors, but some of them got close. WASH-1097 described several of these reactors.

The Norwegians are looking at accelerator-driven thorium reactors.

Kirk favors the molten-salt reactor. It was the best reactor on the thorium cycle, because it was capable of continuous reprocessing and complete consumption of the thorium resource. It was also the most developed, with two reactors that were built and operated very successfully.

Further reading:
Here is a powerpoint form Kirk Sorenson which he presented at a seminar at Ohio State University in early Oct 2006


Michael Anissimov said...

"The energy contained in one kilogram of Thorium equals that of four thousand tons coal" seems slightly excessive to me. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, it does not square with what you actually get out of 1 kg of thorium - only enough power for 50 people a year. The 50-person-years of electricity figure is based off of 1 MW being approximately enough electricity for 1,000 people a year and a 1 MW thorium reactor consuming 20 kg of thorium a year, obtained by dividing the uranium needs of a 1 GW reactor (20,000 kg/year) by 1,000. Maybe you need totally different amounts of fuel for a uranium or thorium reactor, but I doubt it, so I'm guessing that the 20 kg-for-1 MW figure is correct.

In any case, people don't burn eight hundred tons of coal per year for their power needs, so the "four thousand tons coal" seems high. Unless a kg of thorium could meet the power requirements of more than 50 people/year.

bw said...

I had not verified the values from the article.

the energy density of coal is 6.67 kW*hours/kg. from wikipedia

Potentially 11 million kilowatt-hours per kilogram of thorium. (at 50% efficiency to convert to electricity)

It is 4000 tons if the conversions are both equally efficient.

From the thorium energy blog