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Truth versus Guns

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Thorium Nuclear Power
Fuel Cycle 

Rolf A. F. Witzsche
June 3, 2006
Source LaRouche PAC

May 29 (EIRNS)--


In India, it's called the "fuel of the future." There is three times as
much thorium in the Earth's crust as uranium (thorium is about as
abundant as lead), and much of it is easily accessible, such as
in the monazite beach sands lying on the shores of southern India
and Brazil. Apart from its abundance, thorium has other
advantages over uranium, a major one being that all of the mined
thorium is usable in a nuclear reactor, whereas only 0.7% of
natural uranium is the fissionable U-235 isotope. After all the
factors are considered, a unit mass of thorium contains about 40
times as much available energy as compared with uranium.

For these reasons, the mastery of the thorium fuel cycle has
been a high priority for India, and other nations. Now Norway,
which contains the world's third largest reserves, is getting
interested. Thorium is not new as a nuclear fuel. It was
considered as one of the three possibilities as the source for
fission in the development of the atomic bomb. The slower
development of thorium as a reactor fuel probably stems from a
decision, made under wartime conditions in 1941, to focus the
work of the Manahattan Project on the uranium and plutonium
fission cycles. We have produced many experimental thorium
reactors. The Peach Bottom reactor, 65 miles southwest of
Philadelphia, which operated between 1967 and 1974, used a
mixture of highly enriched uranium and thorium to generate its
110 megawatts of power.

What makes thorium different from uranium is that it does
not itself fission. However, it can be easily transmuted into a
fuel, uranium-233, which fissions more efficiently than
uranium-235 and with less unburned by-product in the spent fuel.

Thorium is thus called a {fertile} rather than a {fissile} fuel.
To convert natural thorium (atomic number 90, atomic weight 232)
into uranium-233, all that is needed is a supply of neutrons.
This can come from the neutron flux which occurs naturally in a
uranium reactor. In the most promising configurations, the
thorium is either mixed with the uranium fuel, or a
uranium-rich "seed" is surrounded with a thorium "blanket."

The reaction proceeds as follows: First, thorium-232 absorbs
a neutron to become unstable thorium-233 (half-life 23.5
minutes). This decays by beta emission into 91-protactinium-233
(half-life 27.4 days), which decays by beta emission to
92-uranium-233. After the reaction has proceeded, the uranium-233
and the remaining thorium are then easily separated by chemical
means, and the uranium-233 is ready for the fission reactor.

Thorium mineral reserve estimates (in tons) as of 2004 were:
300,000 Australia
290,000 India
170,000 Norway
160,000 United States
100,000 Canada
35,000 South Africa
16,000 Brazil 

[source: truthout, by Stewart Nusbaumer, other wires, May 29,


About LaRouche - the American economist and statesman that has become a legend in our time in the fight to advance civilization, protect mankind, and create a new renaissance: 

" We are at a point in world history. 
At the present time, the international monetary financial system
of the world is in the process of disintegration. That does not mean the end of the world. It means that we either make certain changes, or this
planet will go in fact into a prolonged new dark age, comparable
to what happened to Europe during the middle to late part of the
14th century." (LaRouche, June 15, 2006)

About the series:  Truth versus Guns,
 presented by Rolf A. F. Witzsche

About Rolf A. F. Witzsche

Rolf A. F. Witzsche, is an independent researcher, publisher, and author of eleven novels. The novels are focused on exploring the Principle of Universal Love, the principle that is reflected to some degree in every bright period throughout history, with the added challenge for today to give our universal love an active expression with a type of 'Universal Kiss' for all mankind. 

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