Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nuclear News and Oddities

Nuclear News of note can be found at:

The 52nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy at ANS Nuclear Cafe

Brian Wang's Next Big Future Nuclear Update

Nuclear Street Nuclear Portal

Nuclear Town Hall

An interesting nuclear oddity popped up on the radar screen: An unconventional fusion researcher, Bodgan Maglich (inventor of Migma Fusion Cells), has re-emerged in connection with the recently announced Exyder Cell -- a 10" fusion neutron breeder which creates fissile Uranium 233 from fertile Thorium 232.
”India has 360,000 tons of thorium against only 45,000 tons of natural uranium… Installing one or two exyder type mini breeders to serve each nuclear power plant operating on Thorium/U-233 cycle would eventually render the power station self sufficient…” Computer simulation indicated that one Exyder module could economically produce 100grams/day, 35 kg/year of U-233, at electric energy cost of $50/Kg vs. $300/Kg for U-238. CANDU type reactor of 235 megawatt burns 10 Kg of U-233/year. “Even sub-engineering’ energy breakeven fusion systems which consume a net amount of electric energy to generate fissile U-233, can play a critical role in cutting the production cost.” _Businesswire
This use of fusion -- to create neutrons for use in breeding fissile fuel from fertile fuel -- may find common use in the future, if it is found to facilitate a more economical, safe, and sustainable nuclear fuel cycle.

Another potential approach to a safe "breeder-reactor" is the sub-critical reactor which is powered by a nuclear accelerator, and spallation neutrons. Both of these approaches (fusion-powered breeders and accelerator-powered breeders) may well also represent solutions to the nuclear storage problem and some potential proliferation problems (via re-cycling).

Thorium is more common globally than Uranium, and is distributed somewhat differently. This means that nations and regions which do not have abundant Uranium supplies, may well have plenty of thorium to fuel fission plants for hundreds of years.

Another approach to a Thorium cycle reactor, is the Molten Salt Reactor. Charles Barton at Nuclear Green covers the molten salt reactor regularly.

It is crucial to understand the energy density advantage of nuclear fuels and nuclear reactions. When one also understands the central role of abundant energy to the advancement of humans as a species and as a cosmic enterprise, one's short, intermediate, and long-term energy goals should be much clearer.

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