TED Talks: Thorium, An Alternative Nuclear Fuel?

Submitted by: captkangaroo 5 years ago Tech

No, it isn"t mined in Asgard. Sounds like a great alternative, but what are the downsides?
There are 31 comments:
Male 5,811
[quote]Solar power relies on batteries and always will, plus they don`t make power when it`s cloudy.[/quote]

Incorrect. Although they do rely on batteries, second generation photovoltaic cells are extremely efficient. Yes, the amount of energy absorbed is reduced, but they do absorb light photons that penetrate clouds. To follow your logic, plants, algae etc. can`t photosynthesize when it`s cloudy, which is just not true.
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Male 12,365
Bah, I missed the real world implementation of something I`d seen a while back as a possibility.

There is a solar power station setup that can do base load because it does have controllable output on demand. It can store enough heat to generate 300MWh of electricity with 1% loss of heat over 24 hours...and the design is scalable.

So scratch the baseload problem. You can use solar for baseload, if you do it right.

Shame it`s next to useless here in England. Not enough space, not enough heat. Wave looks much better here - lots of coastline on a narrow island and the sea on some parts of it has big waves.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Without batteries it doesn`t make sense to use for more than a small fraction of energy supply. You cant just shut off the powerplants while you are making solar power so it doesn`t displace the need for traditional power plants. This is why people think it is moronic.[/quote]

Hopefully not, since it`s not true. If you build a solar power station properly, you can vary the output up to whatever its maximum is at that point and you could cut the power output immediately if you had to (at the turbine).

There are good arguments against solar, but that`s not one of them.

It is true that you can`t really use solar for baseline generation, but not because you have to run it on full all of the time. It`s because you can`t control the maximum output and varying output quickly enough to match variations in demand is more difficult than with some other methods.
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Male 67
Nearly all the energy on the planet comes from the sun, that being said solar power is only effective on sunny days. Without batteries it doesn`t make sense to use for more than a small fraction of energy supply. You cant just shut off the powerplants while you are making solar power so it doesn`t displace the need for traditional power plants. This is why people think it is moronic.
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Male 12,365
[quote]TKD_Master: Solar power relies on batteries and always will[/quote]

There are existing, working solar power stations feeding to national grids right now and they don`t rely on batteries. They don`t use batteries at all. There are no batteries with anything like the storage capacity required to be of any use in large-scale power generation.

Although I did recently see some interesting early work on a new type of battery that can be made practically any size and which uses only very common materials. The energy density is lower than Li-ion, but the idea is that you can build warehouse-sized batteries and use them for mass storage. That would be extremely useful for any national grid, regardless of how the electricity is generated.
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Male 12,365

It does take up a lot of space, but the best places to do it are usually mostly uninhabited. It`s a viable part of energy production in some places, under some circumstances.

[quote]our resources should be focused on things more practical,like wind, wave and geothermal which already exist.[/quote]

Also only viable in some places under some circumstances.

There`s no reason why they all can`t be used, each where it`s viable.

But you also need a reliable consistent source wholly under your control because you can`t efficiently run a supply on demand grid without that. So we`d need nuclear as well as the rest, unless someone comes up with something better (which doesn`t look at all likely).

Also...wind as a practical energy source? Seriously? It would be if you were using higher altitudes, but it`s impractical at ground level or windmill level.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Solar power is great if you are heating bathwater or charging your Ipod, otherwise it is a moronic pursuit and a waste of time and space.[/quote]

That depends on where you do it and how efficiently you do it.

There is a hell of a lot of energy in solar even on the surface of the Earth. For example, even with only technology fairly cheaply available on a mass scale today (i.e. no photovoltaic panels), the entire current electricity consunption of the entire USA could be met by solar power in about half of the Mojave desert. Check out concentrated solar power, which uses heat rather than light. Mirrors focus onto a tank of liquid, which boils water, which drives a turbine, which generates electricity. Mostly the same tech in existing power stations, just a different heat source.
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Male 17,512
TKD_Master: Solar power relies on batteries and always will, plus they don`t make power when it`s cloudy. The LIon batteries needed for solar power are not only flammable they are hard to recycle.

Thorium is the solution because it will not need batteries.
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Male 17,512
uatme: Because it needs to be refined into pure thorium, it takes a football field size of ore to make a small handful of pure thorium.
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Male 1,083
last post on this,
How is it that a handful can generate a life time supply of energy but a football field only lasts a year? (how do you quantify a lifetime of energy?)
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Male 1,083
@EgalMm yes hydrogen is already a fuel... but you need energy to produce it...
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Male 616
Solar power is great if you are heating bathwater or charging your Ipod, otherwise it is a moronic pursuit and a waste of time and space. Outside of Earths atmosphere it may very well be a viable source of energy, but otherwise our resources should be focused on things more practical,like wind, wave and geothermal which already exist.
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Male 1,083
"low efficiency turbans" -lol I had a prof that pronounced it that way unless he was reading something aloud then he would say "turbine"
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Male 1,421
@TKD: There`s one flaw, thorium reactors are ready now. Your `graphene` solution will take another twenty years. And since thorium is a feeder reactor, we can get another round of energy from that nuclear waste we`ve collected over the years. Without Uranium peddlers we never would`ve had those high pressure idiotic nuclear plants in the first place.
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Male 694
This guy is a horrible public speaker. Regardless, he has some amazing ideas.
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Male 1,737
Hydrogen is already fuel you tool.

If you found it in a book published in the 50`s, odds are other people in your field read it and for whatever reason disagreed.

I`m sure it`s great for the moon, can`t mess that environment up to badly.
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Male 4,793
"randomxnp"

You might be right saying that environmentalists don`t support nuclear energy, but I have to say you are stupid for saying it is entirely their fault that we don`t have more nuclear energy.
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Male 4,793
Any research/development spent on this is a complete waste of money/time. Here is why.

SOLAR as well as fusion are both the ultimate power sources at this time. What we need is graphene windows or graphene covered houses. Not only would the houses/windows be nearly indestructible, but they would also act as solar panels and power the entire house. It sickens me when i see society urging towards developing tech for unrenewable energy sources. The time we spend on that resource is completely wasted once it has run out. The sun will never run out, and if it does its GG for us anyway so it doesn`t matter.
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Male 25,416
10 minutes... i dont have that much time
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Male 3,445
"Mm- depends what our power output ends up being. Good article in the latest copy of New Scientist that suggests the only surefire safe thing is solar, simply because of the possible warming effect of nuclear - ok not a problem for a long while- but still possible."

I`m a big fan of solar, but if you view Rawrg`s link, you`ll see that it`s just not feasible for a lot of uses. Ideally, the best solution is a combination of many different forms of energy production. We desperately need to get off of carbon-producing forms, however.
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Female 7,833
Mm- depends what our power output ends up being. Good article in the latest copy of New Scientist that suggests the only surefire safe thing is solar, simply because of the possible warming effect of nuclear - ok not a problem for a long while- but still possible.
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Male 2,850
No! Bad idea!

If we start doing this, then who knows how long it is before we have doomsday devices encased in cobolt thorium G!
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Male 1,293
"...what are the downsides?"

It does need a small particle accelerator (or more likely three, for backup) to sustain the reaction, but those are in development.

The reasons it has not happened is that no-one with a voice wants it. "Environmentalists" oppose nuclear energy in all form because they were funded by the KGB and because they don`t understand science. Therefore the only people willing to fund nuclear energy were the military, for whom uranium has one great advantage: it produces fuel for nuclear weapons. No-one in the middle has a say, because the "environmentalists" shout them down and say they are being mean to ickle bunny wabbits.
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Male 10,440
Plus its got "Thor" in it. This technology is full of win.
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Male 37,888

try Dilithium Crystals!




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Male 17,512
I posted about thorium reactors 15 months ago, Here

It`s taking awhile, but it finally seems to be getting some scientific attention.
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Male 934
Here are the reasons it hasn`t been done. Most seem to be political in nature, and not so much that our scientists are incapable of solving the technical issues.

http://youtu.be/bbyr7jZOllI
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Male 68
This isn`t anything new. In fact India has a fairly large nuclear program based on thorium. Mainly because it is so readily available there, and they don`t have the large nuclear enrichment infrastructure that the US has.

I`m not sure of the exact details why US isn`t using Thorium reactors. However, it probably has to do with the public disapproval of nuclear energy in the late 20th century. This disapproval lead to a complete stop in industry growth.

As with all nuclear energy, there is some level of risk. However, with the amount of passive systems the thorium reactor would have leads me to believe it could potentially be safer than the PWR`s(Pressurized Water Reactor) of the same class as the ones in fudgeushima, Japan.

Nuclear Energy isn`t a faustian bargain that most people seem to believe. Reactor designs have come a long way in the past 40 years.
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Male 14,774
Thorium is one of the sources that the Nuclear Boy Scout used when he turned his back yard into a a Superfund hazardous materials cleanup site.
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Male 658
new-klee-rrr
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Male 2,630
Link: TED Talks: Thorium, An Alternative Nuclear Fuel? [Rate Link] - No, it isn`t mined in Asgard. Sounds like a great alternative, but what are the downsides?
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