Question: Can Thorium Be Weaponized?

Can thorium be used in nuclear weapons?

Thorium, when being irradiated for use in reactors, makes uranium-232, which emits gamma rays.

The irradiation would then make uranium-233 in lieu of uranium-232 for use in nuclear weapons—making thorium into a dual purpose fuel..

Can thorium be used as fuel?

Thorium is more abundant in nature than uranium. It is fertile rather than fissile, and can only be used as a fuel in conjunction with a fissile material such as recycled plutonium. Thorium fuels can breed fissile uranium-233 to be used in various kinds of nuclear reactors.

Does thorium produce waste?

According to some toxicity studies, the thorium cycle can fully recycle actinide wastes and only emit fission product wastes, and after a few hundred years, the waste from a thorium reactor can be less toxic than the uranium ore that would have been used to produce low enriched uranium fuel for a light water reactor of …

How long does it take for thorium to decay?

about 14 billion yearsThe time required for a radioactive substance to lose 50 percent of its radioactivity by decay is known as the half-life. The half-life of thorium- 232 is very long at about 14 billion years.

Is thorium flammable?

Thorium is chemically reactive and is attacked by oxygen, hydrogen, the halogens and sulfur. Thorium powder is pyrophoric (ignites spontaneously in air).

Why Thorium is not used in nuclear reactors?

Thorium cannot in itself power a reactor; unlike natural uranium, it does not contain enough fissile material to initiate a nuclear chain reaction. As a result it must first be bombarded with neutrons to produce the highly radioactive isotope uranium-233 – ‘so these are really U-233 reactors,’ says Karamoskos.

Which country has most thorium?

Australia has the highest thorium resources with 489,000 tons followed by the US with 400,000 tons, Turkey with 344,000 tons and India with 319,000 tons. The remaining resources are found in countries like Venezuela, Brazil, Norway, Egypt, Russia, among others.

How dangerous is thorium?

Thorium is radioactive and can be stored in bones. Because of these facts it has the ability to cause bone cancer many years after the exposure has taken place. Breathing in massive amounts of thorium may be lethal. People will often die of metal poisoning when massive exposure take place.

Does the human body use thorium?

The primary ways people are exposed to thorium are inhalation, intravenous injection, ingestion, and absorption through the skin. More than 2.5 million people worldwide were exposed to thorium in Thorotrast between 1930 and 1950. Once injected, Thorotrast remains in the body, resulting in lifelong exposure to thorium.

Is thorium named after Thor?

In 1815, for example, Berzelius isolated a new element from a mineral sent to him from the Swedish mining town of Falun and named it thorium after the Scandinavian god of thunder, Thor.

Is thorium safer than uranium?

Benefits. Thorium is safer and more efficient to mine than uranium, thus making it more environmentally friendly. [5] The percentage of thorium found in its ore is generally greater than the percentage of uranium found in its ore, so it is more cost-efficient.

Why do we not use thorium?

Why aren’t we using thorium in nuclear reactors, given the possibility of a meltdown is nearly zero and the waste cannot be used to make bombs? … Cold War-era governments (including ours) backed uranium-based reactors because they produced plutonium — handy for making nuclear weapons.

Is thorium safe to handle?

Alpha particles do not penetrate the human skin and is therefore not dangerous. Thorium-232 is safe provided we are not stupid enough to eat it or ground it up into a fine powder and inhale it. … Thorium-232 DOES NOT produce the dangerous penetrating ionising gamma rays.

Can a thorium reactor meltdown?

Most importantly, meltdowns aren’t possible with thorium reactors because the reaction is not self-sustaining. That last safety advantage is also the main drawback of thorium. You need a little uranium and a neutron source to get the reaction kickstarted.

Can thorium replace uranium?

Thorium can also be used to breed uranium for use in a breeder reactor. … Thorium can be used together with conventional uranium-based nuclear power generation, meaning a thriving thorium industry would not necessarily make uranium obsolete.

Is thorium better than uranium?

Thorium is three times more abundant in nature than uranium. … Compared to uranium reactors, thorium reactors produce far less waste and the waste that is generated is much less radioactive and much shorter-lived.

How much would a thorium reactor cost?

We assume a small plant means about 200 MW. Another way to get a handle on thorium-reactor costs would be to examine the cost of current conventional reactors under construction, such as the Vogtle units in Georgia. From Wikipedia: The expected cost for the two reactors is $14 billion.

Can I buy thorium?

Thorium is a common element widely distributed across the earth and typically concentrated in the heavy sands which serve as ores for the rare earth metals. Look high, look low and nowhere can a person buy a gram or two of this “common” metal. …