In general, there is no link between commercial nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons. The commercial nuclear industry has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, except for one special case where tritium is manufactured.What is the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations?
I had the impression that weapons-level enrichment isn't necessarily more difficult, just more costly? I.e., you can use the same type of centrifuge systems, but you just need to run them for a lot longer (and/or build a lot more of them). I'd assume that's not the most efficient way to go about it, and so typically higher-tech methods are used, but isn't it possible to simply run a lot of centrifuges for a long time?The technology to enrich NU to the 3% needed for a reactor is a lot easier than to enrich it to 90% needed for a weapon.
That's pretty much it for U-235 enrichment. One just adds more stages to the enrichment process, or one uses fewer centrifuge stages, which means that one would have to collect the enriched output, then start it back through the existing centifuges.I had the impression that weapons-level enrichment isn't necessarily more difficult, just more costly? I.e., you can use the same type of centrifuge systems, but you just need to run them for a lot longer (and/or build a lot more of them). I'd assume that's not the most efficient way to go about it, and so typically higher-tech methods are used, but isn't it possible to simply run a lot of centrifuges for a long time?
Yes, I know. But that's only a radiation hazard, which can be solved with a good glove box, I'd say. U-233 combines the advantages for making a bomb:One other aspect of using U-233 is that you would need to separate out the U-232 from the U-233 (since there is a potential for U-232 in any sample). U-232 has in its decay chain Tl-208 which has a very penetrating gamma in high abundance (see http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/overview/technical2.asp).
Your last two posts were very interesting, but then it finally came down to "Every day there is always one thing that comes to remind me how ignorant I am"!! When you say "initially", I think of the WWII bomb crew and a couple of questions I never really considered.As stated in the excellent article you linked to, the only reason to prefer plutonium production over U-233 production initially was 1) that one ignored the problems with gun assembly with plutonium initially 2) that in a reactor with *natural uranium*, the plutonium production is higher than the potential U-233 production. But I keep wondering why, right now, those people intending to make a bomb don't follow the "new" U-233 route, as it seems to avoid the two main obstacles to make an "easy bomb": isotopic separation, and implosion. I find the gamma radiation from Tl-208 a minor problem in that respect.
Yes, the initial Hanford reactors were natural uranium reactors. One didn't yet know how to make enriched uranium, that was the other track that was being explored right at that moment. If one had the technology to fill a reactor with LEU, then one also had the technology to make enough HEU for a bomb! It was because of the presumed difficulty of enriching uranium in sufficient quantities that one took also the road (as a kind of backup) of plutonium.Your last two posts were very interesting, but then it finally came down to "Every day there is always one thing that comes to remind me how ignorant I am"!! When you say "initially", I think of the WWII bomb crew and a couple of questions I never really considered.
1) Were the Hanford reactors natural uranium (I know Dodo, the thought never even entered my mind)?? Was that because they didn't want to waste enriched uranium?
No, that's not the point. The point is that the AMOUNT of thorium that one can put in a NATURAL uranium reactor before it becomes sub-critical is quite low, as compared to the amount of U-238 that one has. So one cannot irradiate much thorium at a given time in a natural uranium reactor. Don't forget that a natural uranium/graphite reactor is BARELY critical, and the least bit of neutron-absorbing material that one adds, will make it subcritical. From the moment that you work with LEU, that's no issue anymore. The advantage of U-Pu is that the fertile material is already present in large quantities - so one doesn't have to ADD any fertile (and hence, neutron-absorbing) material. Making U-233 in a natural uranium/graphite reactor requires you to ADD extra thorium, which will kill the chain reaction if in too big quantities.2) Is the prodcuction of U233 in a thorium reactor really much less than Pu239 in a Uranium reactor?
I think that the conversion was known, and I also think that one knew, or could guess, that U-233 would be fissile, as it is an uneven mass number isotope. But I don't know the details.3) Were the physics of the Thorium reactor and U233 fully understood at the time?
They also use the same pilot. Maybe we should ban them....;) after all, that is where the true difference between a weapon and a tool comes from.The link between nuclear weapons and nuclear explosives is roughly the same as the link between cars and B-52 bombers (they use roughly the same fuel). B-52 bombers are weapons, therefore we should ban cars.