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Norway begin experiment with Thorium in Nuclear Reactor near Oslo -Why bother?

From the comments on December 13 2012 said: (Article correction)

“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 [Plutonium]. 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.”

By Joao Peixe | Wed, 12 December 2012

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.

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


December 13, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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