Thorium (Updated March 2014) 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.Molten salt reactors are well suited to thorium fuel, as normal fuel fabrication is avoided. The use of thorium as a new primary energy source has been a tantalizing prospect for many years. Extracting its latent energy value in a cost-effective manner remains a challenge, and will require considerable R&D investment. This is occurring preeminently in China, with modest US support. Nuclear-Powered Ships (Updated April 2014) Nuclear power is particularly suitable for vessels which need to be at sea for long periods without refuelling, or for powerful submarine propulsion.Some 140 ships are powered by more than 180 small nuclear reactors and more than 12,000 reactor years of marine operation has been accumulated.Most are submarines, but they range from icebreakers to aircraft carriers.In future, constraints on fossil fuel use in transport may bring marine nuclear propulsion into more widespread use. So far, exaggerated fears about safety have caused political restriction on port access. Work on nuclear marine propulsion started in the 1940s, and the first test reactor started up in USA in 1953. The first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, put to sea in 1955. This marked the transition of submarines from slow underwater vessels to warships capable of sustaining 20-25 knots submerged for weeks on end.
Nuclear Power 101 What is nuclear power? Nuclear power is an energy technology that harnesses the powerful forces that hold together the nucleus of an atom. Scientific advances in the first half of the 20th century led to the discovery that the nuclei of certain radioactive elements, such as uranium, could be broken into smaller components in a process called nuclear fission—"splitting the atom"—releasing enormous amounts of energy. Green nuclear power coming to Norway Thorium-fuelled reactors might be the key to a safer, cleaner power supply Credit: Justin Randall SYDNEY: Safer, cleaner nuclear power is a step closer to reality after Norway’s state-owned energy company, Statkraft, this week announced plans to investigate building a thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor. Statkraft (which translates to “state power”) announced an alliance with regional power providers Vattenfall in Sweden, and Fortum in Finland, along with Norwegian energy investment company, Scatec AS, in a bid to produce the thorium-fuelled plant. Thorium (Th-232), has been hailed as a ‘greener’ alternative to traditional nuclear fuels, such as uranium and plutonium, because thorium is incapable of producing the runaway chain reaction which in a uranium-fuelled reactor can cause a catastrophic meltdown. Thorium reactors also produce only a tiny fraction of the hazardous waste created by uranium-fuelled reactors (see ‘New age nuclear’, Cosmos, issue 8). “Norway has taken the lead on this.
U.S. Two tracks are better than one President Barack Obama is essentially following the same foreign policy with China as did predecessors Bush and Clinton. It is called a two-track policy. Presidents from Truman to Reagan followed a one-track policy with the Soviet Union -- that of containment -- to limit the spread of communism and its military threats during the Cold War.
Nuclear power in the European Union European Union countries (contiguous land mass) employing nuclear energy for electricity generation are marked in orange. Those without nuclear power stations are shown in pale blue (including islands belonging to countries that do have reactors but no presence on this island). Nuclear power in the European Union accounted for approximately 15% of total energy consumption in 2005. The energy policies of the European Union (EU) member countries vary significantly. As of January 2010, 14 out of 27 countries have nuclear reactors. New age nuclear Credit: Justin Randall What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality.
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