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Old 09-22-2012, 12:33 PM
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Default Advantages of Thorium nuclear fuel is overstated

A recent article in the GUARDIAN cites a government report of the UK on the alternative nuclear fuel "cycles":
Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are 'overstated' | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Basically the report seems to say in that respect, that while Thorium is an alternative, the amazing benefits that were proclaimed by its advocates are overstated and that it is still a dangerous option that needs many of the safeguards against proliferation etc as conventional nuclear power.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:27 AM
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It's the Guardian. For those not over here, it's heavily biased - essentially a leftist counterpart of Fox News.

Onto the article - That it's a UK government report raises a red flag to me; the government have never considered anything seriously other than more and more windmills.

Quote:
Some of NNL's hesitance comes from UK utility companies' unwillingness to invest the money in research and development necessary to draw out thorium's advantages.
In other words, a less sensationalist headline might be "More investment required to unlock Thorium potential and reduce costs".

The report even recommends low level investment; it just states t hat it isn't ready as a soon-to-be-replacement for most/all generating infrastructure.

Nice try. Do you think people don't actually read your links?
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
It's the Guardian. For those not over here, it's heavily biased - essentially a leftist counterpart of Fox News.
...It's not anywhere near as bad as Fox News. It actually does some original investigation, for one thing.
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:27 PM
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The article did not say that it does not work, just that the advantages are overstated by the proponents, that some of the advantages are not as big as they claim to be and that research is needed to say if this technology is really safer than conventional nuclear. The advantages are overstated - thats all I wrote and the article says.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:59 AM
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Regarding the reputation of "The Guardian" as a source. Interestingly I found another article in there advocating Thorium from earlier this year:
Post-Fukushima world must embrace thorium, not ditch nuclear | Environment | guardian.co.uk
So I guess that newspaper is not really that biased after all.

I'd like to ask you a question though, HNM. What newspapers or news sources DO you trust - I have the impression that few news sources are taken to be valid by you, because quite often if I link to an article anywhere, you are saying that that source is not reliable. So what is reliable? Wikipedia? Only scientific papers in journals with an impact factor better than 4?
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:41 PM
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Honestly, none. All media has to be taken in the context of its agenda - the Guardian is leftist and reactionary, the Mail is right wing and reactionary, the Times is Murdoch, etc. The same goes with the internet. It's not a case of validity - they almost all get basic facts right almost all the time; it's how they editorialise on them.

As for papers contradicting themselves, that's a given when they are written by more than one journalist - indeed, they spend a lot of time making arguments against a column in the previous day's paper. It's a bit like those boilerplate email sigs many large companies use - "This person's views do not necessarily represent ours" -type things. Staff will differ, and generally, articles which say "We [should|shouldn't] do X" are opinion pieces simply because the paper's main content states facts- of course, it's still possible to editorialise on that - use different descriptions, full quote vs. abbreviated quote vs. misquote, levels of coverage, but it's less of an actual suggestion of a position.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:33 PM
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Now then, HNM - what base does your critizism of what I cite or hat drt of certain economic or technologcial ideologies have, if you do not trust any source - I doubt that you really have made experiments by yourself that lead you to these convictions - if you like or not, you have to rely on some sources for the information that your opinions are based on. And these sources will be biased as well. Isn't that so? For example the opinion that thorium recators are a great and safe technology is certainly something that nuclear engineers, energy companies and others like that spread, because they are the ones that profit from it.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:02 PM
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Consider many different sources and the type of bias they have. I hope that sounds as totally obvious to you as it does to me.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:24 PM
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Of course - I read different sources as well but what do you then - one source says this, another one says the opposite - basically all you can try to do is to find out those few points that they both agree on, but that is generally not much. So I think it is not totally out of the question to look at sources that are less biased or basically look at sources that are biased towards the goals I myself have. So I admit I definitely do trust a source that is biased towards environmental protection more than I would trust a source that is biased towards allowing big companies to make a lot of money. Mainly because the prior is in alignment with my personal interests and thus their focus is on what I hold valueable while the latter has nothing to do with my interests and I dont really care if they would reach their goal or not.
But for the sake of it - what do you do, moco Loco, if one source says "yes" but it is biased towards something that profits from a "yes" and another source says "no" but is biased because a "no" is in alignment with their own ideology. Then how do you decide for a "yes" or for a "no" - or do you then say "more data needed" and leave it at that?
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:01 PM
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I make a decision based on context, whatever the issue, and consider more data as it becomes available.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:03 PM
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Well - I'd say then that a government that is interested in energy safety for the country saying that a certain technology is not as great as some people claim, then I give that more credit than people who are enthusiastic about that particular technology telling about the great advantages only.
I always find it convincing, if some organization or person who would profit from something talks about the problems of it.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:52 AM
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Here is a new article from the scientific magazine "Nature":
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...l/492031a.html
Quote:
Thorium is being touted as a potential wonder fuel. Proponents believe that this element could be used in a new generation of nuclear-power plants to produce relatively safe, low-carbon energy with more resistance against potential nuclear-weapons proliferation than uranium. Although thorium offers some benefits, we contend that the public debate is too one-sided: small-scale chemical reprocessing of irradiated thorium can create an isotope of uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons, raising proliferation concerns.
Seems like the claimed advantages of Thorium are falling apart. Not that this comes unexpected as this is the story of so many scientific developments that are at first only looked at from the positive side....

EDIT: Here is a summary of the article with free access: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1205132246.htm - I was not aware that the original article was behind a paywall.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:20 PM
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I do have to agree that the Thorium lobby over does it. When I read their materials they make is sound like daises, butterflyies, and bunnies will spontaneously pop out of the thorium reactor waste.

Naturally the reality is somewhat different. The waste is bad as any fission products are, but they are not nearly as bad existing reactors. While Thorium reactors do produce fissile Uranium 233, contamination is unavoidable. This contamination makes the U233 difficult to work with as far a bomb production goes. Is the proliferation risk zero, not it is not. However, separating Plutonium 239 out of a traditional Uranium 235 based reactor is a lot easier.

The truth is that every sector of energy production does environmental damage. Lots of workers die pulling carbon based energy out of the ground.

I really doubt that any of this means anything today. In the post Fukashima world not many are looking to build reactors of any type.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txen View Post
While Thorium reactors do produce fissile Uranium 233, contamination is unavoidable. This contamination makes the U233 difficult to work with as far a bomb production goes. Is the proliferation risk zero, not it is not. However, separating Plutonium 239 out of a traditional Uranium 235 based reactor is a lot easier.
not according to the article linked. This is the usual response from Thorium advocates - that it is supposedly hard to separate U233 from the "breeder Thorium". According to the article, there is a low risk (if one can say so when dealing with U233) way to get U233 without contamination. I dont know if you can access the article, but you may want to read it or I can copy a few quotes here. Basically what they do is they chemically separate an intermediate product that is created from Thorium on its way to U233 and that has different chemical properties than Uranium or Thorium and can thus be chemically separated. This intermediate then can be purified and it will then decay into pure U233. They say that this is possible with a relatively small scale reactor and a small laboratory and can produce about enough material for one atom bomb in a year without running risk of being detected easily. This is serious, it even sounds like it may be easier to do this than to run expensice centrifuges to enrich Uranium to bomb-grade...

P.S.: Here is a short summary of the article with free access: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1205132246.htm
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"Humans are storytellers. These stories then can become our reality. Only when we loose ourselves in the stories they have the power to control us. Our culture got lost in the wrong story, a story of death and defeat, of opression and control, of separation and competition. We need a new story!"

Last edited by auroraglacialis; 12-06-2012 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:58 AM
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A comment piece. Please refer to my earlier post. You can find 'comment pieces' claiming everything from Obama being a Kenyan communist muslim Illuminati member to there being a global conspiracy to make sure that the author always ends up buying stale bread.

The point is that reprocessing would be obvious, and it's not something that could be done in small facilities by iranians. Since they already have access to proper uranium sources in any case, this is a case of ignoring the larger picture, namely that Iran and North Korea will need to be dealt with in the future, energy crisis or not.

While yes, ideally then any risk would be too far, the truth is that humanity's population is still growing. If you had absolute decision making authority, would you execute 5 billion humans or leave them to die from starvation and exposure to move the world onto wind/solar? Would you implement a controlled reduction over many generations of both population and resource use? If so, how would you address the requisite transition?

It seems a little hypocritical to me to talk about how potential mitigations are bad while acting as if the opposite will magically solve everything. If you do have a concept of a strategy for it, I would be genuinely interested to hear it, and in your own words rather than a copy/paste or link, as it would even potentially be something I would agree with - I just consider myself pragmatic in that overpopulation can not be solved overnight, and util it is no longer a problem, efficiency must be given equal consideration to end effect. I would honestly be interested in discussion of this point.
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