The Department of Energy is in the process of destroying America's supply of Uranium 233, an extremely rare isotope of Uranium not found in nature. This U-233 cost American taxpayers $4.5 Billion (today's dollars) to create. And now, $500 Million dollars are being spent to downblend & vitrify it.
$500 Million is what is being spent now. But the COST will be measured in Billions if not Trillions of dollars, as the full impact of this destruction plays out.
You're probably familiar with Plutonium's use in nuclear weapons. But it is also used in NASA space probes. The natural decay of plutonium releases energy, which is needed by any space probe travelling beyond the asteroid belt as the sun's rays become too diffuse to provide power.
These radically different uses are possible because Plutonium has many isotopes... Pu-238 powers NASA space probes (or it did, we're about to run out). Pu-239 can be used in nuclear weapons.
This video illustrates the use of radioactive isotopes like Pu-238... some are needed for medical diagnosis, some for finding fossil fuels, some even offer the promise of exciting new cancer treatment.
Today, these isotopes are created is special research reactors, and they're quite expensive to produce. Many of these (old) reactors are about to be shut down.
U-233 can be used to create these isotopes while simultaneously generating energy! It can be done using a reactor both safer than today's reactors, cheaper to build than today's reactors, and capable of producing far less tranuranic nuclear waste than today's reactors. (In fact, it can even consume some of our spent fuel rods as fuel.)
This machine is the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), sometimes referred to (by a specific sub-category of design) as the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR).
The MSR can outperform today's reactors because there are no fuel rods, the U-233 and Thorium are dissolved in liquid salts. Homogenous liquid fuel can be consumed far more efficiently than today's heterogeneous fuel rods. In fact, such a departure from today's reactor design is necessary to achieve truly efficient nuclear power.
Here is what MSR can do, that today's reactors can not.
- Make economically available a wide range of radioactive isotopes to fight cancer, perform various medical diagnosis, and allow NASA to continue exploring space.
- Operate without water source for coolinig. (All of today's reactors are found by lakes or rivers.)
- Desalinate water (while also producing electricity).
- Pull CO2 from atmosphere, and use it to create synthetic fuels which do not contribute to global warming.
- No risk of hydrogen explosion (as happened at Fukushima).
- No risk of meltdown (as happened at Fukushima) because fuel is already liquid (with a 1000'C liquid range). Whether solid or liquid, the salts trap radioactive isotopes.
- Inherent, passive safety based on laws of physics. NOT complex, redundant engineered safety.
The one critical advantage America has over any other nation developing MSR technology is our Uranium-233 stockpile. No one else on the planet has such a resource. You do not absolutely need U-233 to run a Molten Salt Reactor, but it is the cleanest way to do so. (Fewer undesirable transuranics are produced.)
Private industry is actively developing this technology (as are other nations), but DoE destruction of U-233 puts the future viability of this technology at risk! Please take a moment to sign the Thorium Petition and halt this mind-boggling destruction.
If you'd like to share this video message with someone who would only be able to consume a 5 minute version, http://youtu.be/xnQKDuu34dc ...is a shortened version of this same appeal.