Topics: Nuclear power, Nuclear fission, Uranium Pages: 3 (1027 words) Published: May 14, 2013
Thorium: An Alternative Source of Nuclear Energy
Are we begin to manufacture one of the most destructive and infamous substances on the face of the Earth once again? The experts say yes, but the public decides to decline no. The United States stopped making this element with the ban on manufacturing nuclear weapons. But with the continuing problem with our ever diminishing energy sources, some want us to begin using more nuclear energy and less energy from natural resources. This paper is going to discuss other source called thorium that we can use to produce nuclear power, the advantages it's production, and why we should consider using this as a great alternative to our nuclear power production. In recent years there has been renewed interest by experts in using thorium as a nuclear fuel in place of uranium to create nuclear power. Thorium, as well as uranium and plutonium, can be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor. Here’s how it works. When Th232 absorbs a neutron it becomes Th233, which is unstable and decays into protactinium-233 and then into U233. That’s the same uranium isotope we use in reactors now as a nuclear fuel, the one that is fissile all on its own. Thankfully, it is also relatively long lived, which means at this point in the cycle the irradiated fuel can be unloaded from the reactor and the U233 separated from the remaining thorium. The uranium is then fed into another reactor all on its own, to generate energy. The U233 does its thing, splitting apart and releasing high-energy neutrons. But there isn’t a pile of U238 sitting by. Remember, with uranium reactors it’s the U238, turned into U239 by absorbing some of those high-flying neutrons, that produces all the highly radioactive waste products. With thorium, the U233 is isolated and the result is far fewer highly radioactive, long-lived byproducts. Thorium nuclear waste only stays radioactive for 500 years, instead of 10,000, and there is 1,000 to 10,000 times less of it to start...
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