Thorium Fuel Cycle - Nuclear Reactions With Thorium - Uranium-232 Contamination

Uranium-232 Contamination

Uranium-232 is also formed in this process, via (n,2n) reactions between fast neutrons and 233U, 233Pa, and 232Th:

Uranium-232 has a relatively short half-life (68.9 years), and some decay products emit high energy gamma radiation, such as 224Rn, 212Bi and particularly 208Tl. The full decay chain, along with half-lives and relevant gamma energies, is:

232U decays to 228Th where it joins decay chain of 232Th

Thorium-cycle fuels produce hard gamma emissions, which damage electronics, limiting their use in military bomb triggers. 232U cannot be chemically separated from 233U from used nuclear fuel; however, chemical separation of thorium from uranium removes the decay product 228Th and the radiation from the rest of the decay chain, which gradually build up as 228Th reaccumulates. The hard gamma emissions also create a radiological hazard which requires remote handling during reprocessing.

Read more about this topic:  Thorium Fuel Cycle, Nuclear Reactions With Thorium