Advantages of Thorium Reactors

Based on the world energy competition and the progressively unstable and fierce global security condition for the past few decades, scientist began to reinvestigate the probability of employing thorium as nuclear power fuel. This resulted to identification of a number of advantages of thorium-fueled reactors as compared to uranium reactors. One of the main advantages is that thorium-fueled reactors contain less waste and less probability for nuclear proliferation. Moreover, thorium is about three times plentiful in earth’s crust as compared to uranium. Thorium-bearing ores have been identified in a number of nations that include the United States, Canada, India, Venezuela, Turkey, Norway, Brazil, Egypt, Australia, and Russia among other nations. In addition, the currently used nuclear reactors are not efficient in mining energy from uranium. Just about 3% of the rods based uranium is consumed prior to the replacement of the rod as a result of fission byproducts build up in the rods. Thus, most of the uranium ends up not being used. This increases the volumes of uranium waste during any reaction. On the contrary, the byproducts of fission in liquid thorium salt can be reprocessed and removed to create extra fuel stock, as the reactor carry on with its operations (Zou & Barnett, 2014).

Thorium-founded reactors have been demonstrated to be extra economical as compared to uranium-based reactors. Contrary to conventional light water reactors by use of uranium, the thorium reactors capital costs would be less. According to Zou and Barnett (2014), $1.1. billion is currently needed in every one-gigawatt uranium-fueled reactor as compared to the approximated $780 million to be used in one-gigawatt in thorium power plant. Moreover, less labor will be demanded to operate thorium plant. It is anticipated that the labor cost will reduce to $5 million from the $50 million in uranium plant. Reduced radioactive waste is created; about 10% of the radioactive waste created in uranium case by volume.  It is approximated that one gigawatt nuclear waste disposal from thorium plant will cost about $1 million or less in every year. Thus bases on the low waste disposal, fuel and capital costs, and the cost of thorium-generated power could be less than electrical power produced via coal or natural gas. In this regard, thorium has the ability to lower the electricity retail power a great deal.

Thorium does not oxidize and it is moderately inert, contrary to uranium that easily oxidizes to form uranium oxide. In this regard, permanent disposal and long-term interim storage are simpler in thorium founded fuel without oxidation issues. Chemically, thorium dioxide is more stable and it contains higher resistance to radiation as compared to uranium dioxide. The thorium founded fouls release rate of fission product is lower with a magnitude of one order as compared to that of uranium. In addition, thorium contains auspicious thermophysical properties due to lower thermal expansion coefficient and higher thermal conductivity as contrasted to uranium dioxide. In this regard, thorium founded fuels are anticipated to contain improved in-pile performance as compared to uranium dioxide and other uranium dioxide mixtures (IAEA, 2005).

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