Thorium Disadvantages

  • Published: 06 August 2017
  • Uranium-233 is a fissile isotope of uranium that is bred from thorium-232 as part of the thorium fuel cycle. Uranium-233 was investigated for use in nuclear weapons. Uranium-233 is produced by the neutron irradiation of thorium-232. Thorium-232 absorbs a neutron, becomes thorium-233, then quickly decays into protactinium-233. Protactinium-233 has a half-life of 27 days and before decaying into uranium-233.

    This protactinium has a large cross-section and can absorb neutrons needed to sustain fission. Because uranium-233 releases so few neutrons in thermal-spectrum, and because 2 neutrons are needed to sustain a chain reaction, existence of protactinium would stop fission.

    Protactinium-233 is a challenge unique to thorium reactors.

    Low breeding ratio is a challenge unique to breeder reactors fueled by thorium, which operate in thermal-spectrum.

    The 5,000 tpy figure of Thorium assumes a 50,000 tpy Rare Earths facility that primarily utilizes monazite as its feed-stock.

    Thorium is a companion element to Monazite. Monazite runs at +50% REE and about 7% Th. So if you processed 50,000 tons of monazite you would get about 3,500 tpy of Th. However, monazite would not be the only feed-stock. You would use many other mineralizations. like apatite running at 3% REE and .002% Th (but with lots of heavy REE). So it would be a mix and tend toward the 5,000 tpy range.
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 1 314

  • Sam tron
    Sam tron  18 hours back

    Did anyone else notice Angry Bird on the public transport? 24mins 26sec. Giving him the dirty eye for filming loudly in public.

    I think she's anti nuclear

    • paul snor
      paul snor  19 hours back

      Oh, and, Dirk, wearing such a cheap toupet doesn’t make you any more trustworthy.

      • paul snor
        paul snor  19 hours back

        This Dirk Thorensen really vomits more numerals than a sensible person can wipe aside. He might be right, but he sounds too much like an all american second hand car dealer. Sorry, I don’t buy.

        • John Komoll
          John Komoll  3 days back

          This guy is an absolute madman. All those video edits with his face inserted right up close onto the screen next to the data as he speaks? The scene starting at 23:00 where he starts explaining about nuclear reactors on a public bus?!

          This feels almost like a Tim & Eric sketch

          • Kevin Ward
            Kevin Ward  3 days back

            synthetic ammonia fertilizers are the number cause of global warming though. don't like their endorsing it in this video, other than that amazing.

            • Kevin Ward
              Kevin Ward  3 days back

              4150 holy shit thats that good shit. star trek here we come

              • MaxB6852
                MaxB6852  6 days back

                There should have been water tanks on the hills behind the Fukushima reactor allowing gravity to feed back up water if the diesel motors failed to drive the water pumps, that would have saved the reactors.

                • C17H25N
                  C17H25N  7 days back

                  There is no "free lunch", you still need uranium to irradiate the thorium. You're just generating twice the amount of nuclear trash.

                  • gordonmcdowell
                    gordonmcdowell  7 days back

                    The Thorium-232 (natural Thorium) BECOMES Uranium-233. There's no doubling. Also, the materials produced are not just extremely valuable (as are many materials in spent fuel rods today), they're also easy to harvest for sale and industrial use, given that operation of the reactor depends on Fission Products being continually removed from it. Check this out...

           spent fuel rods, no one touches the stuff because the rods are radioactive, and also contain Plutonium (fissile security issues). In contrast, a Molten Salt Thorium Reactor emits segregated Fission Product streams.

                    If it wasn't for Fission Products from early nuclear reactors, Rare Earths wouldn't have been available in pure forms, and development of your smartphone (display and GPS) would have been delayed as Rare Earth Elements would be waiting to be studied and harnessed.


                • ElementTDG
                  ElementTDG  1 weeks back

                  I'm still stunned why we haven't gotten thorium reactors. Or why no private company were to produce a blueprint and patent it and build one.

                  • gordonmcdowell
                    gordonmcdowell  1 weeks back

                    DOE GAIN has provided 3 funding instances to Flibe Energy since 2018, so stuff is now moving ahead as opposed to rather stalled and lengthy 2011-2017 period. Not optimal however, still funding constrained.

                • Electron Resonator
                  Electron Resonator  1 weeks back

                  geothermal is our future energy, the Earth has been producing heat for more than 4 billion years, and even after that long so many humans have tasted how deadly that heat is from volcano eruption, so if you assume that the heat will dissipate just by observing a hot spring, then you only need to dig even deeper to the Earth's core, at some point you will be burned alive, that is what you deserve for underestimating such source of heat

                  • gordonmcdowell
                    gordonmcdowell  1 weeks back

                    Ha. Yes, dig deeper, more heat. The Earth's internal thermal energy flows to the surface by conduction, and is replenished by radioactive decay of minerals at a rate of 30 TW. That, too, is nuclear power. I think that's the point overlooked my most proponents of nuclear power... 30 TW is great but not beyond the realm of human consumption if one assumed all human energy needs should be met by the miracle of geothermal energy.

                    Some wind proponents think they can lessen the impact of hurricanes with strategic deployment of wind turbines. The heat stored in Earth is of course immense... using up more each year than generated by radioactive decay doesn't mean there'd be any impact for a long, long time... but if humans made a meaningful impact on that 30 TW, we'd literally be accelerating the inevitable day when Earth's core is no longer molten.

                    Fissioning Fertile and Fissle isotopes does NOT have that impact.

                    Doesn't matter... what people should focus on is how to halt carbon emissions (which nuclear power is very good at, just as geothermal is very good at). But geothermal can't solve everyone's energy needs everywhere.

                    We need all low-carbon solutions to be leveraged. And what is frustrating is to hear "we don't need nuclear just use renewables" eventually evolve into "geothermal" when the short-comings of all other renewable options are pointed out... yes, geothermal, but it isn't the one-stop solution any more than wind or solar. (Or nuclear, for that matter, as nuclear won't be supported everywhere politically, and demands a level of technological infrastructure which doesn't exist everywhere.)

                    Yay... geothermal. Do that too.

                • Grostart
                  Grostart  1 weeks back

                  Unfortunately we can't solve complex problems if we can't solve less complex problems first.

                  • Dennis W
                    Dennis W  2 weeks back

                    For anyone wondering where the actual "disadvantages" are, here's a TL;DR of what wikipedia is saying:
                    Around 28:00 the guy is explaining the process of turning fertile thorium-232 into fissile uranium-233. He very tangentially mentions that this takes about a month to happen. The problem is that the intermediate stage, protactinium-233, is a neutron poison, meaning it eats a neutron and does not split. On top of dampening the reaction, this turns it into the unusable 234-isotope, so it also removes reactor fuel. This is why they keep talking about the "chemical kidney": They need a way to sequester the protactinium as soon as it is created and take it out of the neutron crossfire until it to turns into uranium. Now the amount of protactinium involved in even a large scale reactor is annoyingly small. We're talking sub-ppm trace concentrations of it in the thorium solution. This is very hard to isolate from the bulk liquid and the process to do this efficiently is the major area of research. It probably doesn't help that the bulk thorium salt is molten fluoride, making most organic chelation agents unsuitable without an energy intensive process (cooling, dissolving, separation, boiling off the solvent and reheating all while the reactor is running).

                    This is actually a simple exercise in engineering and organo-metal complex chemistry though and the research won't even really involve much radioactivity, so I still don't understand why they're not just throwing some dollars at it until it goes away, I mean we're talking maybe a few million to make the technology feasible..

                    Edit: The diagram in his presentation mentions fluoride volatility. Uranium hexafluoride evaporates at less than the boiling point of water, so the idea is the uranium will simply boil out of the molten salt. It sounds like this would require a lot of thorium to just sit there gassing out for several months and you'd have to keep it molten during that time.. I guess it's possible though.

                    • Ludmila Marešová
                      Ludmila Marešová  2 weeks back

                      Is this a clickbait?

                    • bimmjim
                      bimmjim  2 weeks back

                      COST ..
                      . *COST*
                      cost benefit analysis

                      • OwlNation Legal
                        OwlNation Legal  2 weeks back

                        Thw problem with thorium reactors is we'd all end up with Back To The Future Cars, bumping around planets and warped time and we'd probably spread the 6th mass extinction all around the universe. Humans are a disease.

                        • aluisious
                          aluisious  2 weeks back

                          What kind of drugs were you on when you edited this?

                          • gordonmcdowell
                            gordonmcdowell  2 weeks back

                            aluisious feel free to download the source and repost an alternate version. ...and here's a 2017 permutation... ...I agree we need to do better, but am at my free-time limit.

                        • Aussie Pom
                          Aussie Pom  3 weeks back

                          Going by the graph at 9:34 Australia was 489,000tons of thorium which it's government won't touch because it's in love with the black gold or coal. They'll sell it to other countries but not use it to power Australia. Australia also has vast reserves of uranium but that is sold to other countries and there are no nuclear power stations in Australia and the politicians won't even consider it as a source of power. Even China won't consider thorium for if they were then why are there another 100 coal fired power plants they intend building. Where does some of the coal for those new power plants and existing power plants come from, Australia of course which explains why the Australian government is so in love with the black gold.

                          • Sininen Blue
                            Sininen Blue  3 weeks back

                            I thought this was discussing the disadvantages of the thorium mod for Terraria

                            • Richard Shapiro
                              Richard Shapiro  3 weeks back

                              short answer is US regulations crippling innovation. we built one already and it worked great, in 50's. all we need is political willpower to get this going.

                              • Richard Shapiro
                                Richard Shapiro  10 hours back

                                @John Mccoy is he hip to thorium? have not heard him speak on it. I like AY.

                              • John Mccoy
                                John Mccoy  1 days back

                                Andrew Yang

                            • longshorts3
                              longshorts3  3 weeks back

                              Thorium molten salt reactors are by design, safe, efficient, and the chosen means to produce power for the future. We do not need plutonium, or uranium fast breeder reactors because they are inherently dangerous ( as we ave seen at Three Mile. Island, Chernobyl, and the worst : Fukishima) and we do not need these reactors to produce any more bomb material - we have far more than enough to destroy the Earth many times over. Time for a change!!!

                              • Fingers Crossed
                                Fingers Crossed  3 weeks back

                                the by products of this cannot be used to make weapons, that's why it's no good according to a lot of critics

                                • Sagacious Rex
                                  Sagacious Rex  3 weeks back

                                  With reliable clean and ubiquitous fuelled power generation, society becomes incredibly prosperous at EVERY level and personal freedoms maximise. Every process imaginable requires energy. Innovations become essentially unlimited. There are diabolical globalist influences reeking out of the current nuclear power bias. Another example of globalist cabal control of the most important resources for humanity. They have made TRILLIONS by forcing the current dirty nuclear process to prevail.

                                  • falfield
                                    falfield  3 weeks back

                                    Content good - presentation appalling. What made you think that cutting to a different view every few seconds was a good idea to help people hold onto the information presented?

                                    • gordonmcdowell
                                      gordonmcdowell  3 weeks back

                                      If you want the more leisurely paced source material it is here (6.5h doc) feel free to try assemble a better summary: ...Agree we need to do better, but am at my free-time limit. If you want to pitch in pick up a copy of Fluid Fuel Reactors:

                                  • Daryl Younger
                                    Daryl Younger  4 weeks back

                                    Yeah let me guess , the Westinghouse group’s always about money and not solutions. It’s time we do something for the world as a whole and not to make more American fat cats......there’s enough of those fat bastards already.

                                    • Nicola Rivarossa
                                      Nicola Rivarossa  4 weeks back

                                      nuclear energy enthusiasts need to be making better videos. a video this confused needs to be shorter

                                      • gordonmcdowell
                                        gordonmcdowell  4 weeks back

                                        Nicola, feel free to rip the contents and repost a shorter version. If you want assets here's the source material (6.5h doc): ...and here's a 2017 permutation... ...I agree we need to do better, but am at my free-time limit. If you want to pitch in pick up a copy of Fluid Fuel Reactors:

                                    • Christopher Marsh
                                      Christopher Marsh  4 weeks back

                                      If it's illegal in the USA what about a Native American reservation?

                                      • gordonmcdowell
                                        gordonmcdowell  4 weeks back

                                        There's nothing illegal proposed here, but if you are referring to concentrating Thorium by removing heavy rare earths (REE) then it is a question of liability. Possibly Native Americans have an advantage on this, and it would be nice to see advanced technology deployed where economic growth is needed... but historically I believe such locations have only seen resource extraction and not on-site processing. Because REE aren't rare, the only advantage offered then is Native Americans being "ok" with tailings ponds... no one I know wants that outcome. We'd rather see those resources put to use, and NOT put in tailings ponds.

                                    • Murad Beybalaev
                                      Murad Beybalaev  4 weeks back

                                      I applaud the covert social engineering behind this video.

                                      • woobilicious.
                                        woobilicious.  4 weeks back

                                        The fact that this video is almost all that one guy talking about thorium, and repeating the same things feels like this is a propaganda video and not genuine advocacy.

                                        • Greg MELLOTT
                                          Greg MELLOTT  4 weeks back

                                          The headache about Thorium is that the reactor to use it is a breeder reactor. If the uranium produced is not all removed from the blanket area of the reactor that lets the atoms collect more protons, then it can keep acquiring more and eventually become plutonium. Even the Uranium 233 itself is a potential bomb material. It may be a greater benefit in a space station or transport type situation; being a potential proton absorber for radiation protection purposes; as well as going on to be a serious power source perhaps for ion engines or materials processing needed to maintain it..

                                          • gordonmcdowell
                                            gordonmcdowell  4 weeks back

                                            "If the uranium produced is not all removed from the blanket area" ...that's kind of the point of the Chemical Kidney, and 1 of the 3 DOE GAIN vouchers provided to Flibe Energy since 2018. If the Protactinium isn't removed then NEUTRONS will be absorbed and breeding ratio will not be maintained... there's no spare neutrons for anything else, and that is also the point when people are worried about proliferation. The U233 can't go anywhere without the reactor ceasing operation, so you'll have U232 contaminated U233 moving from a power reactor that has just shut down? No.

                                        • Matt Gibbs
                                          Matt Gibbs  1 months back

                                          Well, Dana, it's not a Light Water Reactor, is similar, but the fundamentals are not similar, i.e. fuel, control mechanism.

                                          • 3ICE
                                            3ICE  1 months back

                                            This was good until 22:00 when it started repeating itself. Repetition is the key to brain washing.
                                            Good jump cuts, well put together narrative. But misleading title.

                                            • gordonmcdowell
                                              gordonmcdowell  1 months back

                                              3ICE that is doc “Thorium.” on YouTube completed in 2016.

                                            • 3ICE
                                              3ICE  1 months back

                                              @gordonmcdowell Thanks! I missed some of these. Maybe repetition isn't so bad as I originally thought. Appreciate getting access to the sources, that Google Drive link has some great material; My favorite find is the 6h27m
                                              documentary titled TR2016 Complete Assemble 20170302a High42 vbr20k.mp4

                                            • gordonmcdowell
                                              gordonmcdowell  1 months back

                                              Thorium Disadvantages listed here:
                                              00:00 Solid-fuel thorium reactors fuel utilization ratios similar to PWR.
                                              00:42 Liquid-Fuel in United States licencing is "scary".
                                              02:04 Obama Administration willing to give away MSR know-how.
                                              02:40 PWR seen as "good enough" for long time.
                                              03:00 Licensing restrictions specifically target liquid-fuel.
                                              04:45 NEA OECD evaluated solid-fuel, and liquid-fuel-fast-spectrum only.
                                              20:50 Thermal-spectrum neutrons hitting U233 produce only ~2.3 neutrons.
                                              23:00 Graphite moderator required to sustain fission in MSBR thermal-spectrum.
                                              27:50 Protactinium-233 half-life 27 days.
                                              29:00 Material challenges (MSR is pre-requisite so MSR challenges are Th challenges.)

                                              ...I can appreciate the cross-section talk was repetitive. I thought it was the only hard-to-get topic touched on, very few non-nuclear people will be familiar with the concept, so I did repeat it even a bit more than Kirk's original delivery. The concept isn't exactly an opinion though... like if someone was explaining Earth's gravity and kept repeating 9.8 m/s^2 it would be equally annoying but not really qualify as brainwashing.

                                              If you want to try assemble a better edit yourself please do. Full-length edit here... ...or just rip the current edit and collapse it down as you see fit. Name it whatever you'd like.

                                          • Sonder
                                            Sonder  1 months back

                                            Poison is poison, none of it is a good idea.

                                            • bowlweevil
                                              bowlweevil  1 months back

                                              give ELON MUSK a shot at it it'll be running pretty soon

                                              • Ian Pearson
                                                Ian Pearson  4 weeks back

                                                If the Chinese even think it can be an advantage to them, the USA is going to sit up with a jerk and do something to shut it down...….perhaps start a new war to take their minds off the race to the new World order of who controls the energy cycle controls the World. A new cheaper form of energy production will enable the country that dives in at the deep end to be the number one producer of any goods made by using cheap energy without having to import the raw materials like oil etc.

                                            • Allan Sneddon
                                              Allan Sneddon  1 months back

                                              Wow if this is this good it gives you hope for the future.We are all wasting energy and paying way too much for it.We need energy and cheap.
                                              Not as a commodity but as a fundamental resource everyone should have plenty of.Lots of cheap energy equals a good life.

                                              • Raptor Elite
                                                Raptor Elite  1 months back

                                                Is anyone else sold on Thorium reactors now?

                                                • Ian Pearson
                                                  Ian Pearson  4 weeks back

                                                  Yes, oh dear yes.....I want to plow all my spare savings into that stuff called Thorium as I think it will be good for the economy once someone makes it cheap enough for me to burn in my wood burning stove.

                                              • Jay Werner
                                                Jay Werner  1 months back

                                                I've been watching a few of these videos on youtube, that all seem to have a mash up of lectures and interviews. Does anyone know where to fined the originals?

                                              • Tom Slak
                                                Tom Slak  1 months back

                                                So the people that have the influence are saying "If thorium is to become the new safer fuel source my decades working with Uranium will put me on the sidelines of the industry. I won't allow that because my wants and my standing (I'm a top dog now) in the community take precedence over what's best for our country."

                                                • GMBCATASTROPHE
                                                  GMBCATASTROPHE  1 months back

                                                  That concern about high pressure hot water rings home here. Phase change of water under pressure is the most powerful proven force we have. Thats what would scare me about nuclear. Not the radiation so much. But that high pressure water. Pretty spooky.

                                                  • Phi
                                                    Phi  1 months back

                                                    Thorium is by far the best solution so far. We have enough bombs don't we? Ya well fine. Now do something beneficial.

                                                    • HappyĂpollo117
                                                      HappyĂpollo117  1 months back

                                                      5:41 that's the entire point....... the rest is just retarded legal problems..

                                                      • Reed Criswell
                                                        Reed Criswell  1 months back

                                                        Do the big oil companies have something to do with blocking Thorium?

                                                        • Lucifer Black
                                                          Lucifer Black  1 months back

                                                          Clean renewable energy only.
                                                          No nuclear
                                                          No thorium
                                                          No prehistoric minds of yesterday making decisions for the New minds of the future, they will inherit enough of their forefathers failures as it is.

                                                          • gordonmcdowell
                                                            gordonmcdowell  1 months back

                                                            This looks promising: ...of course he's no godfather-of-global-warming Dr. James Hansen who's specifically called for Nuclear Power as a primary means of addressing Global Warming. don't have to like nuclear or support nuclear to understand WHY these people do support it. I'm wondering if you know WHY people (including myself) who consider themselves climate haws support nuclear power?

                                                        • Steven Bliss
                                                          Steven Bliss  1 months back

                                                          What a bunch of crap. Thorium IS THE ANSWER, but the greedy powers that be don't want it!

                                                          • Matthew Schillling
                                                            Matthew Schillling  1 months back

                                                            I think Rickover had a molten salt sub. Pretty sure it was just for cooling. NR (naval reactors) would have the data....good luck getting it

                                                            • Rikki Hoffecker
                                                              Rikki Hoffecker  1 months back

                                                              Brought to you by Standard Oil and BP.....FUCK THE DINOSAUR AGENDA.

                                                              • brodalf
                                                                brodalf  2 months back

                                                                One actual construction Problem is: how are we going to Deal with extremely hot salt corroding its environment? Which Materials can we use to build such a facility?

                                                                • gordonmcdowell
                                                                  gordonmcdowell  1 months back

                                                                  The various MSR startups all use different materials for reactor vessels. You'd have to inspect their designs one-by-one, and the expected lifespan of their reactors one-by-one. For example ThorCon has most frequently swapped reactor. Flibe Energy has a longer lifespan reactor (and is not designed to be frequently replaced).

                                                              • Kb123 B123
                                                                Kb123 B123  2 months back

                                                                Yawn - some obscure argument between people that nobody listens to...boring.

                                                                • john jamieson
                                                                  john jamieson  2 months back

                                                                  Is the solubility in water of caesium Flouride a disadvantage?

                                                                  • john jamieson
                                                                    john jamieson  2 months back

                                                                    Thanks for the answer.. Im not a chemist but pondering worse case senario like discharged into runnoff or river. I understand that the reactor otherwise floride salts are solid and stable if not at high temeratures

                                                                  • gordonmcdowell
                                                                    gordonmcdowell  2 months back

                                                                    Probably not a great feature, but you'd probably have limited salt-water contact since the fuel salts themselves are not soluble and they'd be solid where contacting water. (Water might be vaporizing but salt solidifying if not already solid.) I believe these are some of question SAMOFAR looks to answer... FP behavior if fuel salts escape vessel.