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Save the Uranium-233, Explore Space, Save Lives

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Uploaded on Jan 24, 2011

Google Tech Talk
January 13, 2011

Presented by Kirk Sorensen.

ABSTRACT

Uranium-233 does not exist naturally, but about a ton of the stuff was transmuted from Thorium-232 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960's. Some people would have us blend this exceedingly rare element with natural uranium for disposal. However, Uranium-233 can be used in an advanced nuclear reactor with interesting properties. Uranium-233 is the cleanest burning fissile material. Employed as an initial fuel load for a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, this small supply of Uranium-233 can be the match to ignite a process that produces a huge supply of electricity along with small quantities of useful fission products. In particular, the LFTR produces small amounts of Plutonium-238, essential for NASA's deep space missions; Technetium-99m, exceedingly valuable for medical imaging; and other specialized isotopes used in cancer treatments. Nuclear power reactors can be engineered to produce many valuable materials through transmutation belying the term "nuclear waste".

Kirk Sorensen is chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. He has been researching the nuclear fuel cycle for many years in connection with a strong interest in thorium as a planetary energy source. He is also a PhD student in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville under Dr. Laurence Miller. He runs a blog called "energyfromthorium.com" and is active in the Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA) and the International Thorium Energy Organization (IThEO) and is also a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS).

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