Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering
This paper aims to inform the reader of the benefits that can be achieved by using thorium as a fuel for nuclear power. Stages of the thorium cycle are directly compared against the current uranium based nuclear fuel cycle. These include mining, milling, fuel fabrication, use of various reactor designs, reprocessing, and disposal. Thorium power promises several key advantages over traditional nuclear power methods, namely a dramatic decrease in long lived radioactive waste, increased fuel efficiency, greater chemical stability during disposal, and higher adaptability for differing reactor designs across a wider range of the thermal neutron spectrum. Obstacles that face the thorium fuel cycle are the necessity for remote and automated reprocessing, build up of neutron poisoning and long lived 233Pa in the decay chain during operation, and a large logistical shift in the way the nuclear power industry operates. By combining the thorium fuel cycle with molten salt reactor technology, the first two challenges are mitigated due to the simple reprocessing associated with the novel idea of a liquid based reactor core. Hence, an increase in public demand for thorium power will be necessary to persuade key players in the nuclear industry that the switch to thorium will be economical.
Hall, Vincent, "A review of the benefits and applications of the thorium fuel cycle" (2010). Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Honors Theses. 25.