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Old 07-06-2014, 01:28 PM
 
1,027 posts, read 1,576,421 times
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I came across this article today on Thorium sorta of like uranium . It is so dense and highly efficient it could provide all the power an average person will consume in their lifetime.

It could allow supersonic flights like the concord to be reality again and allow cheap access to space that would revolutionized the space travel..

Is the "Superfuel" Thorium Riskier Than We Thought? - Popular Mechanics

Anyone hear about this thorium that is so cheap and so energy efficient.

I thought the future was biofuels?
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:02 PM
 
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Popular Mechanics for at least the last 4 decades has sensationalized almost every "maybe, possibly, could, up-and-coming-thing" research...

I'll get excited when I see it in commercial use, until then ~YAWN~
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:57 PM
 
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Popular Mechanics magazine cover 1951:







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Old 07-07-2014, 04:29 AM
 
Location: Westwood, MA
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Those are some fun pictures.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:04 AM
 
Location: near Turin (Italy)
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thorium is another radioactive element, like uranium. so in practice it could be used to fuel nuclear plants... considering than the fission reaction must be triggered converting it in uranium, the process sounds as risky as the normal nuclear process fueled with uranium (same radioactive waste, for example). the only advantage is that thorium is more available than uranium, and so probably it is less expensive.
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Old 08-01-2014, 01:41 AM
 
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Yes, Thorium can act as a super feul for supersonic flights. It has more more abundant nature than uranium, it is more fertile rather than fissile. It can be used as fuel in conjunction with fissile material such as recycled plutonium. It is introduced as new energy source. But cost-effective manner remains a challenge.
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
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We already built a nuclear powered planes and had nuclear powered jet engines that were supposed to Static bombers during the cold war before Air-Air refueling and the launch of Sputnik-1 made strategic nuclear bombers obsolete and funding was cut and programs were shut down as the Cold war Era where ICBM's came into play but in the 1950's 60's and early NEVA/ NRX/XE Nuclear rockets were pretty amazing but budget cuts and the choice to fund the Shuttle program instead of expanding the Apollo program and instead of pushing the limits of space travel we limited ourselves to LEO and nuclear powered planes where to heavy with all the lead shielding and weight added to make to protect the crew from prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation and were too dangerous to fly.



molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of nuclear fission reactors in which the primary coolant, or even the fuel itself, is a molten salt mixture. MSRs run at higher temperatures than water-cooled reactors for higher thermodynamic efficiency, while staying at low vapor pressure.


The early Aircraft Reactor Experiment (1954) was primarily motivated by the small size that the design could provide, while the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (1965–1969) was a prototype for a thorium fuel cycle breeder reactor nuclear power plant.

The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (acronym LFTR; spoken as lifter) is a type of thermal breeder reactor. LFTRs use the thorium fuel cycle with a fluoride-based, molten, liquid salt for fuel. It can achieve high operating temperatures at atmospheric pressure.

LFTR is a type of thorium molten salt reactor (TMSR). Molten-salt-fueled reactors (MSRs) supply the nuclear fuel in the form of a molten salt mixture. They should not be confused with molten salt-cooled high temperature reactors (fluoride high-temperature reactors, FHRs) that use a solid fuel. Molten salt reactors, as a class, include both burners and breeders in fast or thermal spectra, using fluoride or chloride salt-based fuels and a range of fissile or fertile consumables. LFTRs are defined by the use of fluoride fuel salts and the breeding of thorium into uranium-233 in the thermal spectrum.

In a LFTR, thorium and uranium-233 are dissolved in carrier salts, forming a liquid fuel. In a typical operation, the liquid is pumped between a critical core and an external heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to a nonradioactive secondary salt. The secondary salt then transfers its heat to a steam turbine or closed-cycle gas turbine. This technology was first investigated at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment in the 1960s. It has recently been the subject of a renewed interest worldwide.

Japan, China, the UK and private US, Czech, Canadian and Australian companies have expressed intent to develop and commercialize the technology. LFTRs differ from other power reactors in almost every aspect: they use thorium rather than uranium, operate at low pressure, fuel by pumping without shutdown, use a salt coolant and produce higher operating temperatures. These distinctive characteristics give rise to many potential advantages, as well as design challenges.

NERVA demonstrated that nuclear thermal rocket engines were a feasible and reliable tool for space exploration, and at the end of 1968 SNPO certified that the latest NERVA engine, the NRX/XE, met the requirements for a manned Mars mission. Although NERVA engines were built and tested as much as possible with flight-certified components and the engine was deemed ready for integration into a spacecraft, much of the U.S. space program was cancelled by the Nixon Administration before a manned visit to Mars could take place.

NERVA was considered by the AEC, SNPO and NASA to be a highly successful program; it met or exceeded its program goals. Its principal objective was to "establish a technology base for nuclear rocket engine systems to be utilized in the design and development of propulsion systems for space mission application".

Virtually all space mission plans that use nuclear thermal rockets use derivative designs from the NERVA NRX or Pewee.
Source Thorium-based nuclear power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
NERVA - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Man one thing that plwhit pointed out is that we had alot more excitement towards space travel and nuclear Fission in popular science and popular mechanics was seen for the positive thin that at the time the articles were so were able to push peoples imagination and learn about history.

Plus looking back at history though old articles and movies is kind of fun since most of the thing never happen or something new comes along and changes our thinking like Back to the Future seems pretty silly while Start Trek and STT using tablets and have ability to have audio and video face to face chats and access to the internet to do a search or take a picture or video and post instantly to YouTube or tweet about it using social media.



Where flying cars and Hoover boards and people texting or using their smart devices not looking where they are going seems dangerous and but the internet is great to learn and research about history where thorium is not new and has already been proven to be viable just it was never scaled up to commercial applications.





But it is making a come back which is k to meet our growing energy needs or alteast replace our aging Gen II and Gen III Reactors with something that has already been proven viable reducing risk and keeping the cost to fund it down.

Last edited by GTOlover; 08-03-2014 at 08:22 AM.. Reason: A
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Old 08-04-2014, 09:37 AM
 
Location: The High Desert of the American Southwest
214 posts, read 179,661 times
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Was this an old back-issue of Pop Mech? Because Thorium has been used for years now.

Thorium is more abundant in nature than uranium.
It is fertile rather than fissile, and can only be used as a fuel in conjunction with a fissile material such as recycled plutonium.
Thorium fuels can breed fissile uranium-233 to be used in various kinds of nuclear reactors.
Molten salt reactors are well suited to thorium fuel, as normal fuel fabrication is avoided.
The use of thorium as a new primary energy source has been a tantalizing prospect for many years. Extracting its latent energy value in a cost-effective manner remains a challenge, and will require considerable R&D investment. This is occurring preeminently in China, with modest US support.
Nature and sources of thorium

Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Soil contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium.
Thorium exists in nature in a single isotopic form – Th-232 – which decays very slowly (its half-life is about three times the age of the Earth). The decay chains of natural thorium and uranium give rise to minute traces of Th-228, Th-230 and Th-234, but the presence of these in mass terms is negligible. It decays eventually to lead-208.
When pure, thorium is a silvery white metal that retains its lustre for several months. However, when it is contaminated with the oxide, thorium slowly tarnishes in air, becoming grey and eventually black. When heated in air, thorium metal ignites and burns brilliantly with a white light. Thorium oxide (ThO[SIZE=4]2[/SIZE]), also called thoria, has one of the highest melting points of all oxides (3300C) and so it has found applications in light bulb elements, lantern mantles, arc-light lamps, welding electrodes and heat-resistant ceramics. Glass containing thorium oxide has both a high refractive index and wavelength dispersion, and is used in high quality lenses for cameras and scientific instruments
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Old 08-17-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelStocks View Post
Yes, Thorium can act as a super feul for supersonic flights. It has more more abundant nature than uranium, it is more fertile rather than fissile. It can be used as fuel in conjunction with fissile material such as recycled plutonium. It is introduced as new energy source. But cost-effective manner remains a challenge.
So if you had a new supersonic plane using this fuel would it not be way cheaper than the concord?
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Old 08-18-2014, 03:01 AM
 
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what happens if one of these nuclear planes crash
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