Showing posts from April 15, 2012

Nuclear Fission, Take 2: The Thorium–Hydrocarbon Economy (Part 1 of several)

Nuclear Fission, Take 2: The Thorium–Hydrocarbon Economy  (Part 1 of several) Enrico Fermi was one of the key scientists in the Manhattan Project, the American project that developed the nuclear fission bombs used to end World War II. He led the team that built the pile and operated the first manmade self-sustaining fission reactor. Fermi famously opined that there should only be nuclear fission power reactors if the technology were forgiving enough that workers would have time to discuss any breakdowns over a cup of coffee before taking action. Thorium fission reactors (at least a few proposed designs) could be that more forgiving technology. They also have advantages in lower ore requirements, less processing required, hotter operation (hence potentially greater operating efficiency), less energetic neutrons, greater safety, considerably less waste storage mass, and considerably less waste storage time. In addition, the high temperatures possible for thorium reactors opens pos