Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why isn't Thorium used for reactor fuel rods?

  1. May 12, 2016 #1
    Is THORIUM a viable alternative Reactor Fuel? Seems like URANIUM and PLUTONIUM are to easily weaponized.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 13, 2016 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Thorium itself isn't fissible. There were some breeding reactor concepts which produced U-233 from Th-232, but they required large quantities of U-235 and therefore also contained a large proliferation risk.
  4. May 13, 2016 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  5. May 13, 2016 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    https://www.gen-4.org/gif/upload/docs/application/pdf/2013-10/gif_egthoriumpaperfinal.pdf [Broken]

    Folks have been thinking about thorium fuel cycles for the last 6 decades. The idea gets revived periodically, and nations such as India, China and others with substantial thorium deposits have active programs.

    Thorium fuel was tested an Indian Point 1 starting around 1962, and on a limited basis in the Shippingport (LWBR) reactor in the late 1970s through early 1980s.
    https://inldigitallibrary.inl.gov/sti/2664750.pdf [Broken]

    MIT study (1999) - http://ltbridge.com/assets/15.pdf
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. May 13, 2016 #5
    In a light water reactor, thorium has less burnup per ton of fuel than uranium by a significant amount. It has a parasitic effect on its neutron economy which essentially wastes reactivity compared to uranium/plutonium.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted