Sub-Critical Reactor

March 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm

For those of you who read my last post, you’ll have seen that I mentioned sub-critical reactors.  

A sub-critical reactor is a fission reactor that maintains sub-criticality.  This means that the fuel (thorium), never has enough mass to maintain its own fission reaction; It needs an outside neutron source to ‘fuel’ the fission reaction.  And yes, you guessed it, I’d like to use a Fusor as a neutron source for a sub-critical reactor.  On a large scale, the money required to use a Fusor as reliable neutron source is fairly small.  €10,000 to a government is nothing.

Throium itself is the proposed fuel for a sub-critical reactor.  It has been successfully used before in some fission power plants, but always mixed with uranium and never in a sub-critical reactor – a sub-critical reactor has never been developed before.  As a fuel, thorium is safer than uranium, this is due to:

  • As a fuel, thorium produces much less nuclear waste.
  • Thorium is more common than uranium, at least three times.
  • Thorium’s energy density is much greater than that of uranium, one ton of thorium is estimated to produce the equivalent energy of 200 tons of uranium or 3,500,000 tons of coal.

The above points clearly show thorium’s advantages over uranium.  Another point to note is that a sub-critical reactor can be used to break down heavy isotopes – called transuranic elements – that are left over from normal fission reactors and take years to decay into shorter-lived fissionable elements. which makes sub-critical reactors twice as useful.