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View Diary: New German Data Shows No End in Sight for Coal (230 comments)

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  •  no electric company is interested in thorium (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw

    and no electric company is asking for a thorium reactor.

    It's irrelevant until the electric companies are interested.

    •  And the electric companies won't be interested (0+ / 0-)

      until government-funded prototypes concretely establish the commercial viability and improved safety.  We all know private companies don't take risks. Which is a great reason to implement a large government program to do exactly that.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:09:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But it turns out that companies ARE interested ... (0+ / 0-)
        A Norwegian company is breaking with convention and switching to an alternative energy it hopes will be safer, cleaner and more efficient. But this isn’t about ditching fossil fuels, but rather about making the switch from uranium to thorium. Oslo based Thor Energy is pairing up with the Norwegian government and US-based (but Japanese/Toshiba owned) Westinghouse to begin a four year test that they hope will dispel doubts and make thorium the rule rather than the exception.
        link
        •  Oh, thanks for the link! The whole thorium thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          fascinates me. I'm going to read it right now.

          Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

          by bigtimecynic on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 09:29:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, what really hindered thorium historically (0+ / 0-)

            was its inability to generate material for our cold war nuclear arsenal.

            Perhaps we're moving beyond that now.  Or, according to the link, not us so much as the Norwegians, Chinese, etc.

            •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              translatorpro

              all the thorium hype here is old news.

              There was a Thorioum HTR in the eighties. It was built and in production for several years.  It got shut down because they couldn't make it work realibly and thus never got it profitable.

              The problem with HTRs is the HT part. The vast amount of problems in engineering for very high temperatures were vastly underestimated. At 800-1000 °C ( ~ 1500-1900 °F)
              there are not many materials left to work with realibly, and those you have have vastly different properties.

              And while the THTR is quite robust against machinery failure of all kind (it can survive a complete loss of external cooling and of all machines surrounding it, it is VERY susceptible towards containment failre - the containment may not fail under any circumstances. You can not afford any oxygen getting into the inside, or you get a very very fatal graphite fire and/or explosion which would widely distribute the nuclear fuel.

              Thorium reactors are the kind of technology that looks good on paper but is not practical b/o engineering challenges in real life.

              They are sort of the Wankel engine of reactor technology

              ______
              "Und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss - weiß noch nicht dass er tanzen muss", Rammstein, "Amerika"

              by cris0000 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:26:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's not really what the link says . . . (0+ / 0-)
                There was a Thorioum HTR in the eighties. It was built and in production for several years. It got shut down because they couldn't make it work realibly and thus never got it profitable.
                . . . it seems like the bigger problem was that it was situated in the nuclear-phobic country of Germany.

                In any event, as I've posted elsewhere - there are a new generation of thorium reactors being designed - and in some cases even being built and tested.  Not sure if the concept should be dissed too badly for not working based on 30 years engineering attempts of which there were a dozen or more

        •  it's just a testbed (0+ / 0-)

          It won't produce a single watt of commercial energy.  (shrug)

          And all the previous testbeds fell flat on their face.

          It's vaporware.

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