THORIUM REMIX 2009 has been well received, so I’ve cut it down further to 10 minutes and put the subject in a Canadian context: How about using a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor to power oil sands crude extraction?
Bill Dickie (Alberta Minister of Mines and Minerals 1971-1975) pointed out the Stelmach government just polled 1024 Albertans and found only 25% object to new nuclear projects…
The Stelmach government opened the door Monday to nuclear power in Alberta — rejecting a moratorium and saying it will consider the controversial energy option on a case-by-case basis — but vowed no public dollars will be invested in any project.
The province announced its nuclear power policy the same day Energy Minister Mel Knight rolled out the results of the province’s public consultation on the issue. A telephone survey of 1,024 Albertans, which incorporated input from stakeholder groups, found about one-quarter of people want the government to refuse projects. Two in 10 said the province should encourage proposals and 45 per cent of people polled want nuclear power plants considered on a case-by-case basis.
With those numbers in hand, Knight said Monday that Alberta is open for business on nuclear power. But he stressed the province won’t cough up a penny and hinted the lack of subsidies might dissuade companies from proceeding in Alberta. “We’re not putting a moratorium on nuclear,” Knight told reporters. “We are not proponents of nuclear energy,” he added. “We need power and proponents that want to build (nuclear) in the system in Alberta are welcome to do so.”
Premier Ed Stelmach, however, said Monday in his “Ask Premier Ed” online video that nuclear energy is a “viable option” in Alberta.
“This is one way of keeping down the carbon footprint,” Stelmach said, noting the United States is “very high” on nuclear energy.
The premier acknowledged nuclear waste is a worry for many, but said new technology is key to addressing concerns.
Depleted uranium can be used as fuel in fast reactors. However, it is not usable in CANDU. CANDU is a thermal reactor, not a fast reactor: it does not breed fuel. It runs on fissile U-235. It can run on (0.7% U-235) natural uranium because it is very efficient at using U-235, not because it burns U-238 (not self-sufficiently, anyway). Conventional reactors are extremely wasteful, as they throw away over 99% of the starting material (because they can not feasibly burn U-238). A closed fuel cycle, with reprocessing and fast reactors, increases fuel efficiency by 100x – hence decreases fuel demands by 100x, and waste production by 100x. The transuranic elements, the most important of nuclear waste, are not left over but are consumed as fuel. Fast reactors can import these waste components from other reactors and burn them. They are waste incinerators. Thorium fuel cycles are basically the same – substituting U-238 with Th-232, and Pu-239 with U-233. They have the same basic advantages as plutonium-cycle fast reactors – fuel efficiency, waste burning. - deleted
Somewhere around 1/3 to 1/2 of a barrel of oil is needed to extract 1 barrel of oil. This is a very significant amount. I can not speak for other people. My primary concern with nuclear reactors are the usual concerns about cost, fuel production, safety, disposal, and cost. If the benefits of nuclear can be had without the drawbacks, then I will dance a little jig. It’s the promise of fusion, after all. - MechaBlue
Canadians are slightly anti-nuke, but the primary problem is that the oil companies already own the natural gas. They just drill a hole and it comes out of the ground to be burned for free, so from their point of view why would they use nuclear? They used to burn natural gas off as waste. You would have an easier time selling the idea of a Thorium reactor in terms of providing people with cheap power. Even then, in Alberta, the “lines provider” will be taking most of the profit from delivering that power. The reason why consumers are stuck with heavily polluting mines and power generation is primarily political. The current generators have used regulatory means to exclude newcomers because it isn’t in their best interest to lower their profits. - raghead
Use of nuclear energy for in situ gasification of coal (via high temperature steam) could reduce mining deaths. High ash coal deposits could also be exploited. Non-volatile poisons could be left in situ and the gas could be cleaned of volatile poisons and suspended matter before use. The process may also be feasible as an alternate for bitumen deposits like Alberta sands. - jagdish
THORIUM REMIX 2011 is now complete. This is my recommended video resource for learning about the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (a type of Thorium Molten Salt Reactor). It begins with a brief summary comparing LFTR to Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR).