[ RadSafe ] Thorium Fueled Reactors
gstanford at aya.yale.edu
Wed Feb 8 19:34:36 CST 2012
The thorium cycle does not eliminate proliferation concerns,
for two reasons.
First, any (uninspected) reactor can be adapted to irradiate
U238 to make weapons-quality Pu239.
Second, it is fairly straightforward to extract pure U233 (an
excellent bomb material) from a thorium reactor by chemical
separation of Pa233 (the U233 precursor). Sometimes it's argued that
removing Pa233 would deprive the reactor of needed fissile
material. However, that deficit can be made up by substituting
poor-quality Pu from LWR fuel, or by using uranium that is partly
enriched. Thus a thorium reactor can be used as a device for
converting lousy (for weapons) Pu or U into high-quality U233.
Thorium reactors will need the same sort of safeguards as
For other aspects of thorium versus uranium, you might find it
helpful to read the discussion that can be found at <
-- George Stanford
At 05:27 PM 2/8/2012, Jake Hecla wrote:
Hello fellow Radsafers- I'm writing you to ask for your
opinions regarding Thorium based reactors, specifically the MSR
design that seems to get so much media attention. The brief research
I've done seems to indicate that MSRs are the future of nuclear power
proliferation. However, I've yet to hear about any of the drawbacks
regarding this technology. Can you enlighten me further?
Thanks for your time
-Jake J. Hecla
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