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Decades to solve problems of Thorium nuclear reactors

Small-modular-reactor-dudSouth China Morning Post, 19 March 14 ……….Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented “war-like” pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve in such a short period.

They would also probably face opposition from sections of the Chinese public after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan….One of the technical difficulties is that the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals such as fluoride that could damage the reactor.

The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.

“We are still in the dark about the physical and chemical nature of thorium in many ways,” said Li. “There are so many problems to deal with but so little time.”

Western countries such as the United States have experimented with thorium reactors but gave up on the technology because of the engineering difficulties………

One of the technical difficulties is that the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals such as fluoride that could damage the reactor.

The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.

“We are still in the dark about the physical and chemical nature of thorium in many ways,” said Li. “There are so many problems to deal with but so little time.”

Western countries such as the United States have experimented with thorium reactors but gave up on the technology because of the engineering difficulties……The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue and the stability of accelerator-driven plants was also in doubt, he said.

“These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers,” he said…….After the Fukushima nuclear disaster three years ago, the central government withheld approval for new nuclear plants.

Part of the resistance came from the public, as many people were worried that nuclear plants would cause more serious contamination than the pollution created by coal-fired stations, Gu said.

Government agencies such as the Ministry of Water Resources also opposed the construction of nuclear plants in land-locked areas over concerns that radioactive waste would worsen river pollution.

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March 19, 2014 - Posted by | China, Reference, technology

3 Comments »

  1. This article reads like more disinformation from the fossil or uranium fuel industry. The very least we can do is to continue the research from Weinberg’s Oak Ridge thorium project. It wasn’t shut down because of ‘engineering difficulties’ but because of the then current realpolitik that demanded the effluent from uranium reactors to build bombs. That certainly worked out well for humanity, didn’t it.

    I suspect that the realpolitik now is driven by the people who still want to drill for oil and gas and dig for coal. Not to worry. We’ll be able to buy all the thorium LFTRs we want from the Chinese in a decade or so. If they decide to sell to us. I am reminded that World War II in the Pacific arose directly from the US decision to shut off oil supplies to the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    The wars during the next century will be fought over water and energy. It would be good to make sure we have both in abundance.

    Comment by Moses Lonn | March 19, 2014 | Reply

    • The article was an extract from the South China Morning Post’s article setting out China’s plan for Thorium nuclear reactors. It most certainly doe snot come from the fossil fuel lobby.

      It is well known in both the nuclear and the anti nuclear lobbies that thorium reactors would take so many decades to actually come into operation that they are not really taken seriously.

      However, the danger is that the thorium lobby will encourage the continuance of the conventional nuclear reactors – with its dream of turning wastes into fuel.

      The thorium lobby’s pitch about “fossil fuel industry against thorium” is laughable. The fossil fuel industries know well that thorium is not going to be any threat.

      Now even the wind and solar industries are less worried about thorium lobby’s attacks on them , as wind and solar are being set up so fast, and ever more cheaply.

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | March 20, 2014 | Reply

      • Why wouldn’t anti-thorium reactionaries post in the South China Morning Post? Did Alvin Weinberg’s reactor at Oak Ridge work or not? He certainly felt that the obstacles could be overcome. Isn’t it worth doing the research if the promise can be realized? China is proceeding. They must have a reason.

        Comment by Moses Lonn | March 24, 2014


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