Quick Answer: Is Thorium Better Than Uranium?

Is thorium named after Thor?

In 1815, for example, Berzelius isolated a new element from a mineral sent to him from the Swedish mining town of Falun and named it thorium after the Scandinavian god of thunder, Thor..

Does thorium produce waste?

According to some toxicity studies, the thorium cycle can fully recycle actinide wastes and only emit fission product wastes, and after a few hundred years, the waste from a thorium reactor can be less toxic than the uranium ore that would have been used to produce low enriched uranium fuel for a light water reactor of …

How common is thorium?

Thorium is about as abundant as lead and at least three times as abundant as uranium, according to Lenntech. The abundance of thorium in Earth’s crust is 6 parts per million by weight, according to Chemicool. According to Periodic Table, thorium is the 41st most abundant element in Earth’s crust.

Is thorium safer than uranium?

Benefits. Thorium is safer and more efficient to mine than uranium, thus making it more environmentally friendly. [5] 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.

Why do we use uranium instead of thorium?

But the real reason we use uranium over thorium is a result of wartime politics. Cold War-era governments (including ours) backed uranium-based reactors because they produced plutonium — handy for making nuclear weapons.

Can thorium replace uranium?

Thorium can also be used to breed uranium for use in a breeder reactor. … Thorium can be used together with conventional uranium-based nuclear power generation, meaning a thriving thorium industry would not necessarily make uranium obsolete.

What countries use thorium reactors?

Research and development of thorium-based nuclear reactors, primarily the Liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), MSR design, has been or is now being done in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, India, China, France, the Czech Republic, Japan, Russia, Canada, Israel, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Can I buy thorium?

Thorium is a common element widely distributed across the earth and typically concentrated in the heavy sands which serve as ores for the rare earth metals. Look high, look low and nowhere can a person buy a gram or two of this “common” metal. …

Can thorium be weaponized?

Unlike the uranium commonly used to power nuclear reactors, thorium salts are protected against meltdowns and can’t be weaponized.

Can a thorium reactor 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.

Why Thorium is a bad idea?

Irradiated Thorium is more dangerously radioactive in the short term. The Th-U cycle invariably produces some U-232, which decays to Tl-208, which has a 2.6 MeV gamma ray decay mode. Bi-212 also causes problems. These gamma rays are very hard to shield, requiring more expensive spent fuel handling and/or reprocessing.

Which country has most thorium?

Australia has the highest thorium resources with 489,000 tons followed by the US with 400,000 tons, Turkey with 344,000 tons and India with 319,000 tons. The remaining resources are found in countries like Venezuela, Brazil, Norway, Egypt, Russia, among others.

What can we use instead of uranium?

ThoriumThorium 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.

Is there thorium on Mars?

This gamma ray spectrometer map of the mid-latitude region of Mars is based on gamma-rays from the element thorium. Thorium is a naturally radioactive element that exists in rocks and soils in extremely small amounts.

Why Thorium is not used in nuclear reactors?

Thorium cannot in itself power a reactor; unlike natural uranium, it does not contain enough fissile material to initiate a nuclear chain reaction. As a result it must first be bombarded with neutrons to produce the highly radioactive isotope uranium-233 – ‘so these are really U-233 reactors,’ says Karamoskos.

How much is thorium worth?

The fuel cost is significantly lower than a solid-fuel reactor. The salts cost roughly $150/kg, and thorium costs about $30/kg. If thorium becomes popular, this cost will only decrease as thorium is widely available anywhere in the earth’s crust.

Does thorium glow?

In this case, uranium decays to thorium-232, which has 90 protons and 142 neutrons. … Thorium-232 decays by kicking out a helium nucleus, two protons and two neutrons, becoming radium-228.

Is there thorium on the Moon?

Thorium is concentrated mostly in one area of the lunar nearside, in the around the great big Imbrium basin. It’s not nearly as abundant anywhere else. On the farside, there’s a bit more in the South Pole-Aitken Basin than elsewhere, but the enrichment is slight.