Thorium no Nuclear Monks! - 26/03/13

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Nuclear waste is recyclable. Once Uranium fuel is used in a reactor, it can be treated and put into another reactor as fuel. This cycle can be repeated several times. Once all the energy is finally extracted from the fuel, the waste that is left over decays to harmlessness within a few hundred years, rather than a million years as with standard nuclear waste. This page explains how this interesting process is possible. Among other solutions for the need to meet power requirements for the 1 billion people without electricity Thorium reactors may be the best bet. It is a little known fact that from the beginning of the nuclear industry Thorium was seen as a better alternative to U238. It just did not produce the Plutonium required for bombs! So we are stuck with huclear waste not out of technological neccesity, but rather as a by-product of the arms race. Advocates of nuclear energy point out that high-level radioactive waste is not a fundamental issue for nuclear energy in general, but only for the conventional "once-through" light water reactors, which use only 0.6% of the energy contained in the uranium fuel, and discard the rest as high-level waste. Reactors such as Integral Fast Reactor or Liquid fluoride thorium reactor which "burn" almost all the actinides in the fuel have successfully operated. These reactors can extract almost all energy content of the fuel, and even consume nuclear waste from conventional reactors as fuel, turning liability into an asset. The resulting low-actinide waste reaches safe background radiation levels in just 300 years, compared to tens of thousands of years in case of high level waste from once-through LWR reactors