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India To Build A Thorium Reactor

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the someone-has-to-save-us-from-the-nimbys dept.

Science 277

In their first story, slowLearner writes "India will build a working Thorium reactor. [Quoting the Guardian] 'Officials are currently selecting a site for the reactor, which would be the first of its kind, using thorium for the bulk of its fuel instead of uranium – the fuel for conventional reactors. They plan to have the plant up and running by the end of the decade.'" Before anyone gets too excited, this is only a modified Heavy Water Reactor and not one of those fancy Molten Salt Reactors folks like Kirk Sorenson have been evangelizing for a while now.

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This makes sense! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919212)

"India will build a working Thorium reactor."

Building a non-working Thorium reactor would be an absurd plan.

Re:This makes sense! (0)

Zibodiz (2160038) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919388)

Why do I never have mod points when I need them?

Re:This makes sense! (4, Funny)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920112)

Why do I never have mod points when I need them?

Why the hell do you people keep asking that stupid question?!?

Re:This makes sense! (1, Funny)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920228)

Damn, why don't I have mod points right now?

Re:This makes sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920510)

I've been asking myself the same thing, but for some reason no-one gives me any, even though I'm the most active user here. :(

Does happen (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919470)

Spain built a non-working nuclear reactor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemoniz_Nuclear_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org]

Re:Does happen (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919694)

Yeah, but that's Spain, you know?

Re:Does happen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920384)

So has the US [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Does happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920568)

probably built it with non working euros as well.

Re:This makes sense! (4, Insightful)

KenRH (265139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919596)

I know he is joking, but I suppose they mean a production reactor as opposed to a research reactor.

Re:This makes sense! (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920096)

"India will build a working Thorium reactor."

Building a non-working Thorium reactor would be an absurd plan.

Never heard of prototyping or simulations? I thought we were all geeks here. apt-get -s install $blah

First yay then nay... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919226)

Too bad, a LFTR would have made my day.

Well well (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919232)

India.reputation++;
Belgium.reputation--;

Re:Well well (0, Troll)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919564)

Why do I keep having to say this? If you think that there are no problems with nuclear power, move to Chernobyl or Fukushima. Put your physical well being where you mouth is. It easy to make inane geeky comments when you don't have any stake in the real consequences of failure.

Can India, China or Viet Nam build one reactor and keep it safe? Perhaps. Can they build dozens and have them all work without a disaster? Absolutely not. There is not a sufficient culture of regulatory independence to insure safe operation. If the regulators failed in Japan, do you think they will succeed in any of these countries?

It is not even clear the the US or any of the European countries are immune from this kind of failure. The only way we will find out that there is a problem is when the radiation detectors go off.

Want an example? Half the licensed nuclear facilities in the US are not in compliance whit NRC fire regulations.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is routinely waiving fire rule violations at nearly half the nation's 104 commercial reactors, even though fire presents one of the chief hazards at nuclear plants.

The policy, the result of a series of little-noticed decisions in recent years, is meant to encourage nuclear companies to remedy longstanding fire safety problems. But critics say it is leaving decades-old fire hazards in place as the NRC fails to enforce its own rules.

...

At the Browns Ferry plant in Alabama, where a devastating cable fire 36 years ago prompted the NRC to adopt tough new fire rules, the plant still doesn't comply with the requirements to protect cables.

http://www.propublica.org/article/nrc-waives-enforcement-of-fire-rules-at-nuclear-plants/single [propublica.org]

Re:Well well (3, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919650)

And I suppose coal is clean and safe and happy? No one dies in coal mining accidents? No one dies from coal pollution? No one dies from coal plant fires? No land is rendered unusable by strip mining?

Re:Well well (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919754)

I understand: The only types of power plants in the world are coal and nuclear.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919910)

No, just the biggest ones... and most of them

Re:Well well (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920106)

No, just the biggest ones... and most of them

Well most of them, but "the biggest (by any measure) are hydro-electric [wikipedia.org] . I know that there are many issues, limited sites, etc. but where there are suitable locations the power output can be huge

Re:Well well (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919824)

And I suppose coal is clean and safe and happy? No one dies in coal mining accidents? No one dies from coal pollution? No one dies from coal plant fires? No land is rendered unusable by strip mining?

Exactly. As a Belgian I can tell you, it's panic and green-huggers. Irrational conclussions, soap-like science.

I think there's also a political aspect: We get newscasts telling us we'll fall without electricity this winter bceause there isn't enough energy. The only way is to import energy at higher prices; which means we'll be importing nuclear energy.

Added to that, we have one of the highest prices for energy: so the government has social plans and budget to "help familie who cannot afford enough energy".

And, the big electricy companies are actually boycotting the government and threaten with price wars if they get additional taxes.

Net result; Belgians will get more expensive energy. But feel warm by the idea they don't have a nuclear plant. (which would bring down their price of energy, wouldn't require ugly and expensive windgenerators everywhere, increase knowhow and independence and a economic boost.)

Belgians are stupid.

A Belgian

Re:Well well (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920040)

I think there's also a political aspect: We get newscasts telling us we'll fall without electricity this winter bceause there isn't enough energy.

Did you check that this actually is true? Because, you know, there are people who would want you to believe that.

Added to that, we have one of the highest prices for energy

Despite your nuclear plants? (You must have them, or you couldn't switch them off.)
So maybe the high price of the energy isn't really related to the cost of production?
But you're right, the energy producers will not let this opportunity to "justify" higher prices pass by.

And, the big electricy companies are actually boycotting the government and threaten with price wars if they get additional taxes.

Belgium plans a tax on not having nuclear power plants?

Belgians are stupid.

A Belgian

Proposition 1: Belgians are stupid.
Proposition 2: You are a Belgian.
What follows, again? ;-)

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920276)

I can admit to my own stupidity and lack of sight in certain aspects out of my domain.
Can you? Or back up your hint towards ignorance?

1. CREG is a energy watchdog in Belgium which warns for increased shortage of energy with a summit at 2015. (when they shut down the nuclear plant causing for even less energy). Article in Dutch: Shortage of Energy in Belgium studies [www.creg.be] . Out of this follows that there will be a shortage, shortage increases price. Instead of creating commodity or replacement in the near forseen future there is nothing mentionworthy. With the forseeing plan to take out a big source of energy that cannot be a good thing.

2. belgian electritcity market [wordpress.com]

1. A minister such as Paul Magnette should take the leading position in liberalizing the market but he does not believe in liberalization altogether.
2. Politicians populate since many years the boards of municipal energy corporations. This close relationship between politics and the energy sector creates – not only for us but also in other countries – a lack of political willingness to tackle energy market issues.
3. The energy market is complex and policy makers do not always seem able to understand the complexity of things.
4. The federal government has lost over the past three years its power over the industry by begging several times to Electrabel for money. Instead of taking structural measures to enforce our position, politicians were repeatedly satisfied with some pocket money to cover the hole in the budget gap.

Belgium plans a tax on not having nuclear power plants?

No, but the energy industry can gauge prices causing social unrest with the politicians carrying responsability. In a crisis climate and no financial resources to dump millions to compensate for it, yes. Things will get complicated. The electricy companies have threatened recently to gauge prices (pass it on to the clients) as protest against political decisions concerning on finding additional ways to find funds by inventing new creative taxes.

Et, voila.

Re:Well well (2)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920584)

Belgians are stupid.

It's not just Belgians. I'm pro-nuke too, but looking at the people out there who'd run this stuff today, I'd say they're not up to it.

Nuclear power should morph in the direction of "The Cloud." Amazon and Google focus on getting their stuff right and finding the right people to make that happen, and selling the result to those who need it. Not everyone can do that with the labour and management that's out there these days. Maybe it'd make sense to leave it to France to run the reactors with the best people they can find, selling the result to all comers.

Re:Well well (2)

NotBorg (829820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920258)

Start making movies about coal dust mutating lizards (Godzilla) and researchers (The Incredible Hulk), maybe a few spiders, etc. Oh and and come up with a coal bomb and use it in a world war.

Face it. Coal just isn't as photogenic as nuclear technologies.

Re:Well well (1)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920674)

We have the technology to make coal pretty much completely clean (minus the CO2)...its just not done because of expense. Similarly note the DOE's budget for "Legacy" costs keeps increasing every single year because we still have no idea what to do with leftover nuclear waste. Currently we just leave it in on-site storage...there is cost associated with safekeeping it. Do you think this can continue indefinitely? The argument isn't such a no-brainer as you make it seem.

Re:Well well (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920680)

Don't forget the massive amounts of radiation spewed out by coal plants.

Re:Well well (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919682)

Half the reactors aren't in compliance with NRC regulations, because people like you stop us from replacing older, outdated reactors with newer more safe reactors. You can't on one hand decry the old reactors as being unsafe but then demand no new reactor be built to replace it. So is the old one more unsafe than the new one or not? If you don't like the old one let's build a new one that is safe.

And Chernobyl and Fukushima were both decades old designs, I believe, late 70s. Unless you think reactor design hasn't changed since, then India's reactor will be more safe by default especially considering how they have to "activate" Thorium to even make it fissile. Hint, it's not by itself.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919958)

You good AC have won +1 internets.

Re:Well well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919972)

Guess which country had not stopped building new reactors but still kept old ones going and suffered a major disaster recently.

Not building new reactors is not the reason why old ones are still online. Today's new reactors will be old reactors soon, and like today's old reactors they will be "safe until proven otherwise", which unfortunately but predictably happens.

Re:Well well (3, Interesting)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920216)

Err, no. The old reactors are not unsafe because they're old, they're unsafe because the *designs* are old and are inherently unsafe. The newest designs cannot go into meltdown no matter how much you try.

Re:Well well (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919736)

I used to live within sight of a nuclear power plant. I still spend time around there often.

Required Snark (1702878) is hysterical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919750)

If you think that there are no problems with nuclear power, move to Chernobyl or Fukushima.

High functioning adults -- of which you aren't one -- recognize that the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are atypical (Chernobyl because it was a piss-poor reactor design that was all but deliberately wrecked, Fukushima because of the well-above design-basis tsunami). Then they think about appropriate solutions and implement them.

In contrast, you immediately associate Chernobyl and Fukushima with the other 100+ nuclear reactors in operation, conclude that they are all ticking time bombs, piss yourself, and either demand that the whole world switch to other power sources that have a track record of more fatalities per MWh and more land damaged per GWh, or you think we should just abandon energy altogether.

Re:Well well (5, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919838)

Why do I keep having to say this? If you think that there are no problems with nuclear power, move to Chernobyl or Fukushima.

I will, but this double dare will include you moving right underneath a wind turbine, or moving into a houseboat in a large dam used for hydro-electric power. Why not move next to a coal mine / coal plant and tell me if you like that? Did you drive to work today? Try living next to a refinery, because 40tonnes of hydrofluoric acid, massive clouds of H2S, or the nightly sootblows are enough to ruin anyone's day. Maybe you prefer to simply not have power at night when you want it because no base-load energy source is pleasant and has zero environmental impact.

The problem here isn't that Fukushima and Chernobyl are irradiated, the problem here is that people were living within 20km of it to begin with. Pretty much every generating technology consumes large amounts of land / is not at all nice to live next to. But given the choice at least nuclear uses little land and doesn't put massive amounts of particulates into the air.

By the way I spent 5 years living in a house from which I could see the cooling towers of a nuclear reactor. I wasn't worried then, and I wouldn't be worried now. I work in a plant that would level a city block if so much as a spark ignited our products. Yet statistically I'm more likely to die in a car accident on the way home than due to a chemical release / explosion at work.

Statistically nuclear power is also the safest technology we have in deaths per GWh of generation, more so when you take into account mining of resources needed for the fuel. Please send your fearmongering back to the US government where it belongs.

Re:Well well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920016)

The problem here isn't that Fukushima and Chernobyl are irradiated, the problem here is that people were living within 20km of it to begin with.

IMHO another part of the problem was the decision to build a nuclear reactor at sea level in a country prone to being hit by tsunamis on a regular basis. What could possibly go wrong there?

Re:Well well (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920318)

I will, but this double dare will include you moving right underneath a wind turbine, or moving into a houseboat in a large dam used for hydro-electric power.

I wouldn't mind living under a roof with solar panels on it though. Solar is still quite a bit more expensive than coal, but is now cheaper than nuclear [theenergycollective.com] , according to some.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919872)

Ok, you have listed the only two major nuclear problems that caused any actual harm in the 60 year history of nuclear power. Instead of pointing out the dangers of nuclear power, you have effectively demonstrated their excellent safety records. There are hundreds of nuclear power plants all across the world that have been collectively running for millions of hours of production time, with only two accidents to speak of. I would call that "not too shabby at all", but then again, I use logic and reason when talking about nuclear power.

Re:Well well (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919970)

I'm already living near a nuclear reactor, you probably are as well. That reactor is not endangering my health in the least. The hundreds of coal fired plants surrounding it however are shortening both mine and your lifespans by several years.

Re:Well well (1)

Dunega (901960) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920056)

Life is dangerous too, you should kill yourself to make sure you don't get hurt.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920068)

If you want to compare deaths caused by energy sources, there are deaths/terawatt figures available on the Net.

Nuclear is 0.04 deaths per TW, the lowest by far.

So, when posting onto /., please come up with ORIGINAL anti-nuke lies, rather than the same tired stuff that gets completely refuted time and time again.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920122)

Put your physical well being where your mouth is

i sure did that. i lived within the 5 mile exclusion zone for lasalle nuclear
station for 4 years. i've since left the area. but i sure wouldn't want to
live down the road near the coal-fired plant at the end of I-180. that's
one stinky, dirty place. in contrast, where i lived was clean and quiet.

U != Th (3, Informative)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920124)

You are being too generic. Thorium doesn't have many of the disadvantages that Uranium has:

  • Weapons-grade fissionable material (233U) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor;
  • Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;
  • Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U-235;
  • Thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction without priming, so fission stops by default.

As a result, a lot of the safety disadvantages that one associates with Uranium based reactors are not applicable here. Thorium also cannot be weaponized, so it's unlikely that Iran, for instance, will be interested in this.

For India, it's a fantastic deal, since that country has 25% of the world's Thorium resources (thank god, one doesn't have to depend on the Middle East for this). Also, the Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), an educational advocacy organization, emphasizes that "there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years." Build a few plants in CA, NY, the Mid West and so on, and much of the commercial energy problems will disappear. In fact, if enough countries adapt this, the cash flow to OPEC will dry up, or at least considerably slow down.

Re:U != Th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920368)

Gasoline is a useful fuel because you can put it in a gas tank very rapidly, and it has 47 times the energy density of the most advanced batteries. Until we solve that problem, nobody's gonna stop paying OPEC.

Re:U != Th (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920690)

True, but once thorium based nuclear power goes mainstream, then you won't see gasoline being burned to produce commercial electricity - it'll only be used in transportation. That would cut down on its demand by ~15%, and reduce daily payments to OPEC by that amount. Of course, if thorium could be used to power cars, nothing like it!

Re:U != Th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920738)

Until we solve that problem

Cheap electricity+scrap hydrocarbons = gas.

location, location, location (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920134)

Why not just make Chernobyl or Fukushima special nuclear economic development zones? The power coming out of the zone on those transmission lines isn't going to be radioactive.
Set up a military reservation and let them run breeder reactors. The military prevents proliferation, assuming you have a professional, non-corrupt military.

What's the worst that can happen? Your "engineers" engage in unauthorized experiments and blow up the reactor? The plant is hit by a 500-year earthquake soon followed by a 500-year tsunami?

Re:Well well (2)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920290)

I started out moaning reading your post as yet another defeatist anti-nuke greenie, but eventually came to essentially agree. However, it's not the regulatory lapses, I think. Instead, it's 21st Century stupidity and management ineptitude we need to fear. People today, in general, can't do what's necessary to make things like nuclear safe. We're slip-sliding back into the Dark Ages. We shouldn't be fiddling with stuff like ubiquitous nuclear power when all we have to work with is the iPod generation.

Re:Well well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919584)

Ah, yes, of course, they use nukes, they're cool. Just like Japan.

We're on the same year of Fukushima's meltdown. Don't you think it would be better to wait at least some months before posing like an idiot?

Re:Well well (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919732)

Do you have a better idea as to how supply the power needs of 1.2 billion people? I don't believe they have enough places to put solar and wind to power their entire country without C02. As far as Japan goes they have little choice but to put these things on earthquake faults and in area subject to tsunami's. I think it fare just as good as a refinery or a chemical plant in the same location.

I believe Thorium is actually supposed to be safer producing less high level waste but we shall see.

Re:Well well (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919952)

Maybe I should say that cars are bad because a whole bunch of people are dying in car crashes as we speak.

Fukushima was located in Natural Disaster Central and was hit with a huge earthquake followed by a monster tsunami. Hardly regular circumstances.

You know who else is cool and uses nuclear power? All these guys. [wikipedia.org] All this and only a small handful of accidents, the most notable ones caused by an incredibly stupid experiment and an incredibly powerful natural disaster. Who's posing like an idiot now?

This is good (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919236)

Our ally India will use its Thorium powers wisely, to prevent Italy and its satrap Pakistan from using Plutonium rays to hypnotize our wives and turn them into blasphemous man-killing lesbian zombies.

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919358)

pics or it didnt happen

Re:This is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919638)

Ok, here [fanpop.com] .

How much does this resemble (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919242)

How much does this resemble the Molten Salt Reactors everyone's talking about?

Will experience from this reactor be able to be applied to the new-style reactors?

Re:How much does this resemble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919290)

The only thing they have in common is Thorium. This will be a failed project.

Re:How much does this resemble (2)

d4fseeker (1896770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919336)

It reembles it in two points; it generates electricity and it uses thorium as fuel source.
But that's already about it. Canada's CANDU reactor design is also capable of using theorium for fuel source and is really close to India's design; so not very 'new'.

LFTR have 2 distinct advantages over this (more or less) proven design; they do NOT have a solid fuel source and thus can be designed to be passive-shutdown,
and they require nearly no chemical pre- nor post-processing of the fuel source. Additionally, they are supposed to have a higher energy gain.

Nuclear waste (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919292)

The nuke waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new plants is insane.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

dino2gnt (1072530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919308)

If we wait long enough, it'll go away on its own.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919362)

Sure, like, just half a million years.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919414)

Do you plan to still be around then too?

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920612)

Just shoot it into the sun. That should take care of global dimming.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919384)

You need to read more or something.

Re:Nuclear waste (2, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919502)

The nuke waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new plants is insane.

Pouring it into the gutter outside the plant would be safer than the way waste is handled in a coal plant, i.e., thrown into the atmosphere. Yes, nuclear waste is very dangerous, but the fact that the danger is so concentrated is a good thing. It means we can feasibly contain it all.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919556)

Yeah, let's do wind...oops, that kills the endagered flying critters.

OK, let's do geothermal!...wait, that causes earthquakes.

Almighty then, Solar it is! but, toxic chemicals, all that ground taken up and What are we doing to our lizards!

Waves? Kills fish and sucks energy from the ocean, can't have that. Ocean needs it ya know.

What's left? ummm...living in a cave with animal fat torches?

We should just grind up all the anti-nuke wackos and use them for fuel.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919730)

What 'toxic chemicals' are in solar panels besides the little plastic electronics box? This has to be some fresh-made right-wing bull****. It is mostly sand, silicon, and aluminum...

Fracking causes a lot more earthquakes... Geothermal doesn't saturate the ground with liquids.

Wind is a lot better than oil rigs offshore.

Put down the AM talk radio and slowly walk away...the truth is out there.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920608)

Are you a fucking retard? What do you think dopes the silicon? Arsenic, boron, gallium... You fuckwit.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920778)

What 'toxic chemicals' are in solar panels besides the little plastic electronics box? This has to be some fresh-made right-wing bull****. It is mostly sand, silicon, and aluminum...

Cadmium telluride is a popular alternative as it's cheaper than silicon panels. Also, refining the high purity silicon to make crystalline silicon panels is hardly a tidy process, such as the production of silicon tetrachloride.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920094)

Yeah that's the real problem. People need energy. You have a bunch of bad choices here. Pick one that doesn't produce CO2 and has enough power to handle base load which leaves out solar and wind because the sun doesn't shine constantly, wind doesn't blow all of the time, batteries aren't yet capable of storing this base load and do it because doing nothing is worse OR maybe we could spend all of our time on carbon sequestration which wont work on cars unless they are electric.

It's a big complicated problem to fix but needs to be fixed now and maybe nukes would buy us some time until solar, wind, and batteries to hold the base load are perfected.

I hear a lot of talk about how dangerous nuclear power is. Have you every toured a refinery or a large scale chemical plant that is crucial to your every day tech lives? Sure it's dangerous but we live around much more dangerous plants than that. Coal plants simply put their radiation into the air. Any reactor that can lower the level of high level waste is OK by me. Anything under 1000 years can be dealt with by dumping it in a salt mine and really that high level stuff most could be reprocessed but we are just so afraid of proliferation to build breeder reactors and such here in the US to get the high level waste down AND don't build them across fault lines or in tsunami regions. We have a few in CA like that just like Japan.

I don't care mod me as a troll but don't just do that because you disagree with my opinion. There is also a difference between green marketing and what really is green. That BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico probably caused more health effects long term than Japans reactor disaster.

While everyone debates this new coal plants come online every day.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919612)

The nuke waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new plants is insane.

Insanity is thinking something that can be handled safely and prudently with appropriate precautions is somehow so dangerous that it will cause untold harm regardless of any reality.

Let's say you are bothered by nuclear waste. Here's what you do, seal it in some glass blocks, and you dump it in a really really deep part of the ocean where subduction is currently occurring.

It'll take millions of years for it to become anything conceivable to worry about.

By which time, all of the dangerous radioactive elements will have mysteriously disappeared.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919788)

The nuke waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new plants is insane.

Insanity is thinking something that can be handled safely and prudently with appropriate precautions is somehow so dangerous that it will cause untold harm regardless of any reality.

With cost/profit pressures continually eroding what the current acceptable risk is.

Underwater drilling can be handled safely too, although it might be cheaper to not worry to much about safety, even if something does go horribly, horribly, wrong.

Re:Nuclear waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919862)

Well, except in Libertarian fantasy land, that's why we have regulations to protect us.

Heck, I have one to protect me from the electrician miswiring my house and causing a fire, a far more substantial risk to me than the nuclear plant less than a dozen miles away.

Mostly because the electrician is in my house! OH NOES! WHAT COULD HE DO!

Ask BP how cheap that was. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920280)

I don't think BP really sees skimping on safety as a way to save money, not anymore. Reality has a way of asserting itself.

Companies will spend the money they need to in order to avoid spending more, at least if they're held accountable.

There's always the problem of the under-funded company which does something dangerous, causes an expensive mess, then declares bankruptcy, leaving the bill for others to pay. That is avoidable through responsible regulation - such as requiring a sufficient level of bonding or insurance before a company is allowed to attempt something which might be risky.

Re:Ask BP how cheap that was. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920786)

That is avoidable through responsible regulation - such as requiring a sufficient level of bonding or insurance before a company is allowed to attempt something which might be risky.

This. I'm as libertarian as they come, and it is plain that the simplest and least intrusive regulation is "if you want to do something, be prepared to pay for it." Either post a bond or get insurance.

I observe that the can is kicked down the road: What keeps insurance in check? Well... I guess if we have to regulate one industry, it'd be insurance.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919786)

Would you rather them build a coal plant instead?

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920058)

I don't know about this thorium design, but most thorium designs produce very small amounts of radioactive waste.

Solved Problem (5, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920130)

If we start reprocessing our fuel using techniques that the French have been using since the 70's then the majority of our waste will be recycled. If we further start using modern reprocessing systems (like breeder reactors), then the majority of the waste that is left will also be recycled.

Then for what is left, the Yucca Mountain storage plan is capable of safely storing nuclear waste for hundreds (if not thousands) of years with no maintenance. You add in a little bit of maintenance and we can safely store the waste indefinitely.

Compare that to coal where we have no practical means for collecting let alone storing all the pollution which they create. And whose pollution is causing much more immediate problems. And whose normal operation causes far more more deaths per MWh than nuclear. Building more coal plants is what is insane.

Re:Nuclear waste (4, Interesting)

daid303 (843777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920326)

So we need to stop burning coal ASAP, because with nuke plants we can contain the waste, with coal burning we just spread it nice and even across the planet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste#Coal [wikipedia.org]
According to U.S. NCRP reports, population exposure from 1000-MWe power plants amounts to 490 person-rem/year for coal power plants and 4.8 person-rem/year for nuclear plants during normal operation, the latter being 136 person-rem/year for the complete nuclear fuel cycle.

Re:Nuclear waste (1)

skrimp (790524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920576)

> The nuclear waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new COAL plants is insane.

There, I fixed that for you.

I agree. Coal plants spew out coal ash which is very radioactive [scientificamerican.com] . We should close all Coal plants immediately.

Oh shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919378)

Do we really want to trust a bunch of jinglys with radioactive substances? The fumes emanating from their armpits are toxic enough as it is.

Re:Oh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920370)

"jinglys "?

Do you just make this shit up?

Why solid? (2)

TheBobJob (1180925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919480)

I wonder why they went for solid fuel rather an a liquid fluoride thorium reactor setup. There are many advantages to the liquid setup plus it is a technology which has been done and proven. Also, the by-products are valuable, so offer additional revenue streams and there is vastly reduced risk in terms or proliferation and melt down capability. As a system, its about as safe as you can get.

Re:Why solid? (4, Insightful)

kiran.kamsetti (952393) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919594)

India has to go for nuclear power generation in a big way using thorium-based reactors. Thorium, a non fissile material is available in abundance in our country. - Abdul Kalam, Former Indian president and former nuclear scientist. I guess that is the reason. I also remember reading vast reserves of Thorium on the Moon :)

Re:Why solid? (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919854)

Either I misunderstand you or you misunderstood your parent poster:

A LFTR reactor is still powered by Thorium... I believe even more so than this setup India i doing now, since a LFTR only needs a bit of uranium or plutonium to start the chain reaction.

But the really big difference is that the design of a LFTR is much less expensive and less dangerous.

The question remains: What keeps us from building them? The fact that they do not produce waste than can be weaponized? For a nuclear power like India, perhaps that was a factor.

Re:Why solid? (2)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920000)

But the really big difference is that the design of a LFTR is much less expensive and less dangerous.

Eh? The heavy water design used by India (Derived from the CANDU technology we sold them) is a comparatively simple and safe design. It doesn't require any heavy machining (as the majority of the reactor operates at low pressure) and is an inherently stable design. Managing hot, corrosive liquids that have to be kept molten once the reactor is started up, is just asking for trouble, and horridly complicated. In effect, once you turn it on you can never turn it off again until you shutter it.

Re:Why solid? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920010)

The question remains: What keeps us from building them?

If you are referring to the US as us, I'd assume that the thing stopping us from building them is the same that is stopping us from building any other kind of nuclear reactor. Such projects lack the popular support necessary to gain needed subsidies and permits for construction.

Re:Why solid? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920766)

If you are referring to the US as us, I'd assume that the thing stopping us from building them is the same that is stopping us from building any other kind of nuclear reactor. Such projects lack the popular support necessary to gain needed subsidies and permits for construction.

Nothing to do with subsidies. A lot to do with lawsuits.

You announce plans to build a nuclear power plant in the USA, and before you get back to your desk, you've been sued by every anti-nuke group in the country.

You pick a site, and they sue you again.

You start construction, and they sue to stop it.

You finish construction, and they sue to prevent the plant from being turned on.

A ten year project takes 20+ years when you're spending that much time in the courtroom. And the costs continue to mount while you're in court.

So, instead, you build a gas-fired plant...and people wonder why we don't do anything about AGW....

Re:Why solid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920002)

> and there is vastly reduced risk in terms or proliferation

That might just be why they're not using it.

Hopefully this will explode and ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37919532)

Hopefully this will explode and extinguish those brown bastards. I'm tired of their disgusting, filthy, polluting nation, breeding away at levels that would make rats ashamed. They are a plague upon this planet. May they be irradiated and eradicated by their own foolish pride and greed.

Thorium? (1)

Kraftwerk (629978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919560)

Let's hope Loki doesn't learn of this.

Fancy? (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919668)

Not sure what the poster means by "fancy" when referring to the liquid flouride thorium reactor. It may be a novel concept to many folks, but if anything it's simpler compared to a light water or pressurized water reactor design. (Or any other solid fuel design, for that matter.)

Salt Schmalt. Who cares? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919674)

If it works, and we finally develop batteries worth a crap, then humans may just survive the next centuries without a 90% die-off.

Re:Salt Schmalt. Who cares? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920206)

Umm, in a century, the die off rate is nearly 100%. Regardless of the sources of power and the accessibility of good batteries.

The Retreat Continues? (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37919858)

Is it my imagination, or does nuclear-power advocacy have a moving-goalposts problem? For myself, I guess I'm like most folks here, I'd love it if there were a technologically advanced carbon-free power source we could all use, so we could all be techno-optimists, and superficially, it seems that nuclear power could be that power source.

But at this point, even fission-power advocates seem to be betting the farm on future designs, rather than trying to convince anyone that any actually operational system is currently being operated safely. This comment thread is worse -- we've heard for a while that thorium reactors will be better, but now that someone's actually building one, it turns out to be the wrong kind of thorium reactor.

I want this to work, but I'm having trouble shaking the sense that fission power is only safe when it's confined to PowerPoint slides, and becomes dangerous when it collides with reality.

Re:The Retreat Continues? (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920066)

"we've heard for a while that thorium reactors will be better, but now that someone's actually building one, it turns out to be the wrong kind of thorium reactor."

Well, you probably heard that mentioned reactor is *not* this one:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LFTR [wikipedia.org]

It's called "Liquid fluoride thorium reactor" and it is quite tested for almost 10 years already in scientist reactors. More, it's designs has been improved more and more. Problem is - big powers are more interested in burning Plutonium and friends (wink wink ...nukes...wink wink). That was main reason why Thorium based reactors (and especially this kind of) isn't so interesting for ruling powers. But now it gets into spotlight because people start to worry about meltdowns, radiation and shit and start to ask questions. And people need power. Renewables are first part of the answer. As far as I see this (and understand), LFTR can be second one.

If done right, LFTR won't experience meltdown. Never. That is what theory and scientist experience with their reactors says.

Re:The Retreat Continues? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920154)

I want this to work, but I'm having trouble shaking the sense that fission power is only safe when it's confined to PowerPoint slides, and becomes dangerous when it collides with reality.

The record of operating plants says differently.

The problem in some ways is similar to airplanes vs. cars. Without questions cars are more dangerous than airplanes. However airplanes are almost universally perceived as more risky because when an accident occurs it is highly visible in the news, involves dozens or even hundreds of people, and was completely out of the control of nearly everyone involved. It's a psychological truth that people feel safer when they feel in control of their destiny, even if that control is more likely to result in their death.

Throw in the fears -- both rational and irrational -- of radiation and radioactive materials and things are much, much worse for nuclear power. The consequences of coal power are mostly invisible to people, so their risk assessment is thrown off even more (people at least see car accidents on a regular basis).

By the way, the reason fission advocates constantly talk about future designs is because while existing designs are good, they can be a lot better. Advocates pushing for the building of new plants would of course rather newer, better, safer designs be built.

It might be a little disappointing that India isn't going whole-hog on exploring new designs, but personally I'm plenty happy to see them building a new and modern reactor.

Re:The Retreat Continues? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920414)

"we've heard for a while that thorium reactors will be better, but now that someone's actually building one, it turns out to be the wrong kind of thorium reactor."

If the reactor is almost exactly the same as the old kind of reactor, but you just fill it with a different fuel, why would you expect to get the benefits of a new reactor design?

Just about everyone talking about the benefits of Thorium (at least outside of India) is talking about molten salt reactor/liquid fluoride thorium reactor technology.

Should have used curium instead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920012)

Cuz indians stink!

The fault lies entirely with the government (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37920042)

The whole problem with the nuclear industry is the complete disconnect between research in reactor design and the operational power plants. Who is to fault for this ? The cost of a nuclear power plant is so great that the operators want to extend the life of the design beyond whats acceptable. And government is very happy to oblige thank you very much.
If the nuclear power plants were to change and update the reactors with the latest technology (not technology designed in the 60s) then we would be having a very different discussion. And government through its various regulatory agencies should enforce for example the fact that no reactor should be in use for more than 20 or 30 years. No extension under any circumstances. After this time, you have to update to the latest certified design. If the commercial players can't come up with a sustainable business plan under these new rules then no nuclear energy. But this makes too much sense, so while research in nuclear design has advanced enormously the "evil" power corporations have "bought/bribed" government to let them use archaic designs. Is it then any wonder that we are having problems ?

Nein Danke (1)

Froggels (1724218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920116)

Nukes are bad!

Really obsolete technology (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920542)

If they were smart, they would have saved their gold and bought a fel iron reactor in a few levels.

First of its kind? The OP should be shot (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37920676)

Not even CLOSE to accurate. [wikipedia.org] If you noticed the post stated that the Indian plant would use thorium for the BULK of the fuel. Like FSV, they will have uranium. Why? For the neutrons. Thorium is fertile (meaning that it can under go nuclear fission), BUT, it is not fissile (capable of generating neutrons to keep the reaction going). For that, you need an outside source. SMALL amounts of Uranium has been the main item used. The interesting part is that the uranium is not a lump, but separated throughout the reactor and up high. If the reactor overheats too much, the thorium would melt, drop to the bottom below the uranium into a pan and that would stop the reaction.

Basically, India is duplicating in 2011, the work that was started in the mid-late 60s (FSV was a product of several other thorium research reactors). General Atomic had the core correct for FSV. Sadly, they used a number of sub-standard parts for the water/steam heat system (from helium to water). If GA was smart, they would re-do their earlier work but as a small reactors that can make use of 'waste' fuel as the neutrons (which is STILL happening). With such an approach, old reactors around the USA and the world can be converted to using thorium, while burning up the 'waste' that we have, and all on site.
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