Thorium Fuel Cycle - History

History

Concerns about the limits of worldwide uranium resources motivated initial interest in the thorium fuel cycle. It was envisioned that as uranium reserves were depleted, thorium would supplement uranium as a fertile material. However, for most countries uranium was relatively abundant and research in thorium fuel cycles waned. A notable exception was India's three stage nuclear power programme. In the twenty-first century thorium's potential for improving proliferation resistance and waste characteristics led to renewed interest in the thorium fuel cycle.

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s, the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment used 233U as the fissile fuel as an experiment to demonstrate a part of the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor that was designed to operate on the thorium fuel cycle. Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) experiments assessed thorium's feasibility, using thorium(IV) fluoride dissolved in a molten salt fluid which eliminated the need to fabricate fuel elements. The MSR program was defunded in 1976 after its patron Alvin Weinberg was fired.

In 2006, Carlo Rubbia proposed the concept of an energy amplifier or "accelerator driven system" (ADS), which he saw as a novel and safe way to produce nuclear energy that exploited existing accelerator technologies. Rubbia's proposal offered the potential to incinerate high-activity nuclear waste and produce energy from natural thorium and depleted uranium.

Kirk Sorensen, former NASA scientist and Chief Nuclear Technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering, has been a long time promoter of thorium fuel cycle and particularly liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs). He first researched thorium reactors while working at NASA, while evaluating power plant designs suitable for lunar colonies. In 2006 Sorensen started "energyfromthorium.com" to promote and make information available about this technology.

A 2011 MIT study concluded that although there is little in the way of barriers to a thorium fuel cycle with current or near term light-water reactor designs there is also little incentive for any significant market penetration to occur. As such they conclude there is little chance of thorium cycles replacing conventional uranium cycles in the current nuclear power market, despite the potential benefits.

Read more about this topic:  Thorium Fuel Cycle

Other articles related to "history":

Voltaire - Works - Historical
... History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731) The Age of Louis XIV (1751) The Age of Louis XV (1746–1752) Annals of the Empire – Charlemagne, A.D ... II (1754) Essay on the Manners of Nations (or 'Universal History') (1756) History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol ... II 1763) History of the Parliament of Paris (1769) ...
Spain - History - Fall of Muslim Rule and Unification
... The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative ... The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms ...
Xia Dynasty - Modern Skepticism
... The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by Gu Jiegang in the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the traditional ... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end" ...
Casino - History of Gambling Houses
... has been seen in almost every society in history ... France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance ... In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons ...
History of Computing
... The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended ...

Famous quotes containing the word history:

    In the history of the human mind, these glowing and ruddy fables precede the noonday thoughts of men, as Aurora the sun’s rays. The matutine intellect of the poet, keeping in advance of the glare of philosophy, always dwells in this auroral atmosphere.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    The principle that human nature, in its psychological aspects, is nothing more than a product of history and given social relations removes all barriers to coercion and manipulation by the powerful.
    Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

    ... the history of the race, from infancy through its stages of barbarism, heathenism, civilization, and Christianity, is a process of suffering, as the lower principles of humanity are gradually subjected to the higher.
    Catherine E. Beecher (1800–1878)