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THE Uranium Supply Thread pt 4 (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby evilgenius » Sat 22 Sep 2012, 11:43:56

There isn't any problem with the supply of Uranium. It can be mined from the sea for about 4 times the cost of what it takes to mine it on land, maybe a little more. The sea contains about 5000 years supply at global usage levels. The problem is with the type of reactors being built to use Uranium. If the current design meme has a failure rate in keeping with observed failures so far, and the world adopts nuclear power using this type globally, then the period between dangerous instances will narrow. Add in what could happen with any kind of disaster (war, CME, terrorism) that can bring down a power grid, which now would have not the occasional but many nuclear plants attached, and the rational for continuing with the current design meme seems absurd.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby M_B_S » Mon 24 Sep 2012, 04:03:49

:lol: There isnt any problem.....lol

The US is More Dependent on Foreign Uranium Than Foreign Oil"

One of the most critical issues discussed is the severity of the US uranium supply and demand deficit. According to Adnani, "The US is consuming 55 million pounds of uranium per annum...to generate 20% of US electricity...(but) domestic production of uranium is only 4 million pounds per year...The US is more dependent on foreign uranium than it is on foreign oil."

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-us ... 2012-09-12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfVELhllrg&feature=plc
********************

The HEU treaty with PUTINs Russia is gone next year so 20% of the US electricity production is @ risk

Only sheeple say: there is no problem there is no problem....

But i am the wolf @ the door ......... :badgrin:

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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby dsula » Mon 24 Sep 2012, 06:44:47

M_B_S wrote:The US is more dependent on foreign uranium than it is on foreign oil."

That's probably because foreign uranium is cheaper.
Similar to the 70's oil peak. Instead of keeping on drilling and digging for oil at home, it was cheaper to simply go and import it. Hence, you got the US oil peak.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 25 Sep 2012, 02:28:52

The problem isn't just peak uranium or avoiding it through various technologies but peak everything combined with lag time. In this case, the IEA argues that we will need the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia every seven years to maintain economic growth, and more if economic growth has to increase given a larger global middle class and a more rapid decline in conventional oil production.

Thus, the various means described in this thread to deal with peak oil should have taken place some time ago. One study states that long-term retooling of manufacturing and mechanized agriculture to use less fuel and petrochemicals may take decades, but we don't have that time. Worse, the effects of financial speculation (which leads to more economic instability), the threat of more conflict over remaining resources, and the long-term effects of global warming which will lead to crop destruction and disruption of manufacturing and mining will certainly not make things easier.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby Scottie » Tue 25 Sep 2012, 08:13:56

ralfy wrote:Thus, the various means described in this thread to deal with peak oil should have taken place some time ago. One study states that long-term retooling of manufacturing and mechanized agriculture to use less fuel and petrochemicals may take decades, but we don't have that time.


"may take decades" and "we don't have don't have that time" are assumptions. Assumptions made without consideration for the extraordinary pressures that peak oil is already inflicting on the global economy and which have already driven per capita energy usage to a plateau some 40 years ago, if your reference to BP information posted elsewhere is correct.

ralfy wrote:Worse, the effects of financial speculation (which leads to more economic instability), the threat of more conflict over remaining resources, and the long-term effects of global warming which will lead to crop destruction and disruption of manufacturing and mining will certainly not make things easier.


More assumptions of a future which is unknown. Increased water in the atmopshere may or may not lead to crop destruction depending on local conditions rather than global ones, certainly mining hasn't been bothered by climate since the first prospectors brought gold out of Alaska and the Arctic more than a century go and "easier' has never been a consideration for miners, one of the hardiest jobs for the hardiest people out there.

In either case, the poster who referenced where we can get near boundless amounts of uranium for but an increase in cost is on the right path. Uranium supply is simply not an issue of availability in the foreseeable future, but only of cost.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby ralfy » Wed 26 Sep 2012, 01:33:12

Scottie wrote:
"may take decades" and "we don't have don't have that time" are assumptions. Assumptions made without consideration for the extraordinary pressures that peak oil is already inflicting on the global economy and which have already driven per capita energy usage to a plateau some 40 years ago, if your reference to BP information posted elsewhere is correct.



Actually, it's the other way round: the phrases quoted are based exactly on those assumptions. It may take decades given the assumption that we have enough oil, but we don't have that time because of peak oil.


More assumptions of a future which is unknown. Increased water in the atmopshere may or may not lead to crop destruction depending on local conditions rather than global ones, certainly mining hasn't been bothered by climate since the first prospectors brought gold out of Alaska and the Arctic more than a century go and "easier' has never been a consideration for miners, one of the hardiest jobs for the hardiest people out there.



But what I wrote also describes the recent past and the present, e.g., food prices going up due to heat waves in Russia and the U.S. coupled with the use of biofuels, hard drive price increases due to floods in Bangkok, mining disruption due to floods in Australia, news of floods and even the heat wave leading to concerns about nuclear reactor operations in the U.S., and more. You'll find the news about all of these events in the other threads of this forum.

Do you think it's more reasonable to assume that the future will not be as bad?


In either case, the poster who referenced where we can get near boundless amounts of uranium for but an increase in cost is on the right path. Uranium supply is simply not an issue of availability in the foreseeable future, but only of cost.


Yes, but uranium doesn't provide energy to human societies by itself. We also need various resources, time to re-tool manufacturing, etc., to slowly move away from oil and petrochemicals, etc., which is the point I was making in my previous message.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby evilgenius » Thu 27 Sep 2012, 14:01:54

M_B_S wrote::lol: There isnt any problem.....lol

The US is More Dependent on Foreign Uranium Than Foreign Oil"

One of the most critical issues discussed is the severity of the US uranium supply and demand deficit. According to Adnani, "The US is consuming 55 million pounds of uranium per annum...to generate 20% of US electricity...(but) domestic production of uranium is only 4 million pounds per year...The US is more dependent on foreign uranium than it is on foreign oil."

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-us ... 2012-09-12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfVELhllrg&feature=plc
********************

The HEU treaty with PUTINs Russia is gone next year so 20% of the US electricity production is @ risk

Only sheeple say: there is no problem there is no problem....

But i am the wolf @ the door ......... :badgrin:

M_B_S


Yeah, yeah, yeah, you mischaracterize my comment, placing it into a short term context. Of course there is a short term (several decades) problem with Uranium. My contention, which is still unaddressed by your reply, is that the temptation will be to build the unsafe kind of reactor as Uranium is brought more online. While it is possible to build safer, non-meltdown, reactors en masse my fear is that humanity will instead chose to go with the devil it knows. The numbers, in that case, are not good in terms of accidents nor the ability to safeguard such an infrastructure. Coming as it would at the end of a prolonged planning and building cycle taking decades such a buildout could not address the immediacy of PO in any significant way other than to offer future benefits. Nevertheless, there is a possibility of a time crunch brought on by political wrangling and the cause of profit that implies a need to proceed slowly and safely.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby prajeshbhat » Wed 10 Oct 2012, 02:05:01

At least they are finding some use for the nukes (bombs):

Power for U.S. From Russia’s Old Nuclear Weapons

What’s powering your home appliances?

For about 10 percent of electricity in the United States, it’s fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, including Russian ones.

“It’s a great, easy source” of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Capital and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war.


M_B_S wrote:Only sheeple say: there is no problem there is no problem....


Nopes.. Only the politicians say there is no problem. The public has been bombarded with oil scarcity stories and conservation messages for decades. They all know there is a problem. But...it's like telling a morbidly obese man that overeating will kill him..Like a couple of heart attacks are going to stop him from overeating..
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby M_B_S » Tue 24 Sep 2013, 06:46:44

USA now more hit by anti USSR nuclear megaton bombs.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-R ... 08134.html

29 August 2013


The final shipment of low-enriched uranium (LEU) from TVEL's JSC Electrochemical Plant (ECP) marks the completion of Russia's commitments under the Megatons to Megawatts program. The US-Russian agreement to downblend weapons-grade uranium will expire later this year.
*******************************

Now you know why Merkel say : "Energiewende"

:badgrin:

Colorado you have a problem....

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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 24 Sep 2013, 07:38:28

M_B_S wrote:
Colorado you have a problem....

M_B_S


Very strange attitude. You should be happy the world has eliminated 20,000 Uranium based weapons and has switched back to commercial uranium enrichment, but instead you seem unhappy for some reason.

From the same news source as your above article.
WNN wrote: 24 March 2011

US uranium enrichment company USEC has signed a multi-year contract with Russia's Techsnabexport (Tenex) for the ten-year supply of low-enriched uranium (LEU). The companies will also consider the construction of an enrichment plant in the USA using Russian technology.

Tenex will start supplying the LEU in 2013 under a contract signed yesterday in Washington, DC, by USEC senior vice president Philip Sewell and Tenex director general Alexey Grigoriev. The amount will be increased up to 2015 when it will reach about one-half the level currently supplied by Tenex to USEC under the Megatons to Megawatts program. The agreement includes the mutual option to increase the quantities up to the same level as that program. Deliveries under the contract are expected to continue until 2022, USEC said.

"Unlike the Megatons to Megawatts program, the quantities supplied under the new contract will come from Russia's commercial enrichment activities rather than the downblending of excess Russian weapons material," USEC said.

The company said that, due to current restrictions on the quantity of enriched uranium that can be imported into the USA from Russia up to 2020, it will "deliver a portion of the enriched uranium to US utilities with most of the enriched uranium to be delivered to USEC's customers outside of the United States in both existing and emerging markets."


IOW starting last year they began importing Russian commercial Uranium from the same organizational corporation in Russia as they did for the Megatons to MegaWatts program with the level of imports rising after the last shipment of down blended bomb material later this year and staying at the same total level until at least 2020 because a USA import-export law limits Uranium imports to that level until that date.
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 2

Unread postby M_B_S » Tue 24 Sep 2013, 11:10:14

http://www.wise-uranium.org/upusa.html

http://www.wise-uranium.org/upusaco.html

Germany had payed 13 billions $ for Wismut damage to the people and homeland and is still paying :idea:

http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/ ... 20Paul.PDF
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Why Germany is going to War with France in Mali: Uranium

Unread postby M_B_S » Wed 25 Jan 2017, 17:32:52

http://mgafrica.com/article/2016-10-27- ... icas-sahel

Image

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2rDNKrQnKc

Over the past few weeks, the United States and France have pledged considerable extra funds to strengthening their military presence in Africa’s Sahel region – a narrow, arid band of land stretching across the continent from west to east just south of the Sahara desert. This has been prompted by growing Western fears of destabilisation. There has been concern that Islamist groups were establishing themselves in the vast spaces between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.

Washington and Paris have promised to help bolster the security of allied governments from Mali in the west to Djibouti in the east. Most of these countries have porous borders and suffer internal security problems or conflicts.

Mali , for example, has endured a long-running civil war fuelled by the return of armed fighters from Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. These fighters launched a separatist struggle that was quickly hijacked by Islamist movements like Ansare Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Niger on the other hand has become embroiled, along with Cameroon and Chad, in Nigeria’s war against the Boko Haram terrorist group. Other conflicts continue in the Central African Republic , South Sudan and Darfur in Sudan .

France has had a considerable military role in West and Central Africa, long after it’s colonial role ended in the early 1960s. Its military seeks to protect friendly governments and to defend longstanding French economic interests. These interests include particularly Niger’s uranium.
****************
http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/germ ... 07057.html

Berlin (dpa) - Germany is planning a major boost to the number of troops it deploys in the crisis-hit West African state of Mali and to extend its involvement in the international fight against the Islamic State extremist group in northern Iraq.

Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to raise the number of soldiers it has committed to Mali to 1,000 from the current deployment of 530.
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Re: Why Germany is going to War with France in Mali: Uranium

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 25 Jan 2017, 18:16:33

The only thing I would add is that this is NOT about nuclear reactors for commercial power plants, which are much out of favor in both Germany and France since Fukushima. Instead this is all about yellowcake uranium concentrates that can be enriched to make "bomb grade" U-235 using electric centrifuges and uranium hexafluoride gases. Saddam Hussein was doing this before we stopped him, and Iran keeps trying to do so, and we have not stopped them yet.
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Re: Why Germany is going to War with France in Mali: Uranium

Unread postby M_B_S » Thu 26 Jan 2017, 06:42:06

The only thing I would add is that this is NOT about nuclear reactors for commercial power plants...

Are you crazy KaiserJeep?

For sure France/EU/GER securing its vital Uranium supply=> Peak Uranium.

http://www.mcser.org/journal/index.php/ ... ad/332/348
https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs ... -ml-ng.pdf
The rest is propaganda for the sheeple.....

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Re: Why Germany is going to War with France in Mali: Uranium

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Thu 26 Jan 2017, 19:56:40

If you ever bothered to read anything but Marxist publications, you would know that both Germany and France are retiring nuclear power plants and replacing them with fossil fuel power plants.

The various wars in sub-Saharan Africa are to deny access to uranium to Muslim extremists, i.e. to prevent an atomic bomb in any Middle Eastern country except Israel.
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Re: Why Germany is going to War with France in Mali: Uranium

Unread postby M_B_S » Fri 27 Jan 2017, 04:02:47

@ Kaiser

Nor I am left or right I am a "PEAK OILER" thats more.... :idea: lol

OK you are correct high graded Uranium in the hands of IS Terrorists would be a total desaster and a reason to go for war.

If so why not saying it in the Mass Media? So the sheeple could sleep and dream from hay and birth and slaught.... stop.

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Re: THE Uranium Thread (merged)

Unread postby Subjectivist » Wed 19 Apr 2017, 15:01:03

Kazakhstan has announced its plans to cut uranium production by 10% this year due to current low prices in the global market.As part of these plans, the volume of production this year will be cut from 23,800 tonnes (as was in 2016) to 21,800 tonnes.This has already been confirmed by Askar Zhumagaliyev, chairman of Kazatomprom, (the national operator of Kazakhstan for import and export of uranium), according to which, such a decision is mainly due to the slow recovery of the global uranium market from the consequences of the crisis, caused by low demand of uranium, which has been observed in recent years.

The planned cut will be equivalent to 2,000 tonnes, which is approximately 3% of the global production. Despite this, Kazatomprom will remain the world’s leading uranium producer.The decision of Kazatomprom should support global uranium prices, which remain currently low and provide an impetus for their further growth. To date, prices have already increased by 10% up to US$24.24 per pound. In 2016 global prices for uranium fell by 41% to the lowest figures since April, 2005. At the same time another reason of the growth of prices became the recent comments by Donald Trump, which in his tweet said the United States needs to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability in the near future.”

According to some analysts, this may result in the increase of uranium production in the US in the coming years.Kazakhstan has been the world’s leading uranium producer since 2009. Over the past 10 years, the country has increased the volume of its production by almost 6 times, well-ahead its nearest competitors – Canada and Australia. It currently accounts for 40% of global production and hopes to retain its leadership at least until 2025.

Kazakhstan does not have its own nuclear power plants and does not consume the products of the nuclear cycle, however its uranium reserves are the world’s second largest after Australia, being estimated at about 15 percent. According to analysts’ predictions, keeping of the same volumes of production, as at present, will result in their exhaustion by 2046.The decision of Kazatomprom became a surprise for the majority of analysts in the field of uranium and nuclear energy, according to which, this could become a crucial moment for the market, which may result in the recovery of global uranium prices from historical lows, taking into account the cost of uranium production in Kazakhstan is one of the world’s lowest.

At the same time the announced cuts by Kazatomprom and some other uranium majors may eventually lead to a shortage of uranium in the global market, especially due to the plans of India and China to create conditions for the development of the domestic industries of nuclear power in the coming years, that will be reflected through the building of new nuclear reactors.


https://investorintel.com/sectors/urani ... al-market/
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The ERoEI of Mining Uranium

Unread postby AdamB » Fri 23 Feb 2018, 23:28:47

In 2009, in the comments to this post on The Oil Drum we stumbled upon a mine of information on the operation of the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia. The data table provided numbers for the amount of energy used on site together with the amount of uranium mined. This provided an opportunity to calculate the energy return of the mining operation. Simply put ERoEI = energy contained in the U / the energy used to mine and refine it. There are some complexities but back then I calculated an ERoEI of 1200:1 The data has been updated and fresh calculations are presented below. First a few words about Rossing. The mine is operated by Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies. Discovered in 1928, operations began in 1976. According to Wikipedia Rossing is the 5th largest U mine


The ERoEI of Mining Uranium
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Re: Uranium Supply Pt 3

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 24 Feb 2018, 10:58:32

I consider that report pessimistic because he makes a couple fundamental mistakes, but even he admits that the Gen II reactors that now make up the majority of nuclear power stations have an EROEI of 310+
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Re: THE Uranium Supply Thread pt 4 (merged)

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 06 Nov 2022, 13:06:36

There's Atomic Energy in Granite


THERE’S ATOMIC ENERGY IN GRANITE: CAN WE UNLOCK IT?

Common, ordinary igneous rock contains all the energy that civilization can use. The energy in a single ton of granite is equal to 50 tons of coal. The same rock holds immense quantities of valuable metals.

Consider this: 100 tons of granite, a chunk somewhat larger than an automobile, contains eight tons of aluminum and five tons of iron. Other ingredients include two tons of magnesium, 180 pounds of manganese, 70 pounds of chromium, 40 pounds of nickel, 30 pounds of vanadium, 20 pounds of copper, 10 pounds of tungsten and four pounds of lead.

In 100 tons of average granite there are 14 ounces of uranium and about two pounds of thorium. These radioactive elements are equal in energy to the power obtained from 5000 tons of coal.

Is it possible to unlock this energy from the rock?

It is surprisingly easy. The two elements are concentrated in accessory minerals that make up less than one percent of the weight of the granite. The rock merely needs to be crushed to gain size and leached for a short time in dilute hydrochloric acid. The acid dissolves and retains important percentages of the uranium and thorium. These may than be separated from the acid by a series of straightforward chemical steps.

This simple process extracts only 25% of the radioactive materials but even on this basis, 100 tons of granite yields nuclear fuels that can produce the same energy as is obtained from burning more than 1000 tons of coal.

From the standpoint of energetics it “costs” less than three tons of coal to mine 100 tons of granite and extract its radioactive ingredients. This cost includes the power devoted to quarrying the rock, crushing it, disposal of wastes, transportation, acids, water pumping, shop facilities and other considerations. Thus, by burning three tons of coal one gets a profit, in energy, amounting to 997 or more tons of coal.

In dollars and cents the picture is not as bright. The price of producing uranium from average granite is estimated at around $340 per pound. Uranium can be extracted from richer ores much more cheaply than this.

However, some large bodies of igneous rock contain higher-than-average amounts of uranium and thorium. The price of uranium doesn’t need to climb much above present levels before these bodies can be mined at a profit.

More study needs to be given to recovery methods that would extract possibly 80% of the radioactive materials in granite. Too, it may pay to investigate the recovery of uranium and thorium as by-products in ordinary hard-rock mining and milling operations. Some mine dumps, also, might pay a profit if their pulverized materials were reworked for their radioactive contents.

In any event, there is ample uranium and thorium in the igneous rocks of the earth’s crust to power a highly industrialized civilization for an extremely long time, certainly for thousands of centuries. No nation need be a have-not in atomic energy, for the raw materials are available everywhere.

The role of thorium as a source of atomic energy is relatively new and is still experimental. Thorium is three times as abundant as uranium. In its refined state it is a gray metal resembling platinum in hardness and ductility. It can be extracted form more than 100 different minerals. One source of thorium is the colored glassy monazite particles in granite.

The radioactivity of granite, as a matter of fact, has led to much confusion on the part of week-end prospectors. Prowling the hills with a geiger counter, an amateur prospector is apt to be elated when he gets a high count form a body of granite or decomposed granite. He’s sure he has made a rich strike. Sometimes it is hard to convince him that granite is virtually worthless at present, even though it is a storehouse that we will tap in the future.

Monazite, the chief commercial source of thorium today, is mined as a beach sand on the coasts of India and Brazil. It is also found as a beach sand in Russia and Australia. Smaller quantities of monazite sand occur in the coasts of Florida and Oregon. Other sources of thorium are in the rare earth deposits of Idaho, South Carolina and California.

In the past thorium was used chiefly in the manufacture of mantles for gas lamps of the Welsbach type. Today the Atomic Energy Commission is buying small amounts paying about $4 per pound for a product containing at least 30% thorium oxide. After reducing this to a metal, the AEC offers it for use in experimental reactors at a price of around $19 per pound. Until recently the thorium was refined into metal by an expensive hatch process that required costly reagents. Now a semi continuous process, much less expensive, has been worked out.

Thorium is not readily fissionable. It does not maintain a chain reaction as do U-235 and plutonium. It is a raw material for atomic energy, rather than being an atomic fuel in itself.

When bombarded by neutrons, thorium changes into uranium 233, and U-233 can maintain a chain reaction. This explains the importance of thorium.

Thorium is to be used in experimental “breeder” reactors that are intended to produce power and at the same time to create as much nuclear fuel as they consume. In theory, a breeder can produce as much as 115% of the fuel it burns up, though this may not prove true in practice. Even if a breeder reactor produces almost as much fuel, it still represents a big step in the development of energy.

Such a breeder would have a central core in which U-235 or some other atomic fuel is burned. The thorium will be placed like a blanket around the core so that it captures some of the neutrons that the core emits. The U-233 that is thus created from the thorium in turn will emit more neutrons, transmuting additional thorium. The theory is that a breeder reactor will maintain itself as long as new supplies of thorium are fed to it.

It may be that thorium reactors can operate at higher temperatures than are permissible with other kinds. The resulting increase in efficiency would produce more steam.

This summer a sodium-graphite reactor using enriched U-238 was being completed near Los Angeles by Atomics International, a division of North American Aviation. Heat from the reactor will create steam that will drive a turboelectric generator which in turn will furnish 7500 kilowatts of power to local lines of the Southern California Edison Company.

The thermal efficiency of the reactor is rated at 30%, but if it were the thorium type its efficiency would be around 33%. This seemingly slight increase in efficiency would boost steam temperature from the present 825 degrees to as much as 950 degrees, with an appreciable increase in electrical output.

Important experiments concerned with “thorium breeding” will be conducted in the sodium-graphite reactor at the same time that it is producing commercial power.

Eventually, thorium may become the favored raw material for fueling all large central atomic-power stations. This may not happen for some time, especially in the United States where rather large quantities of the uranium isotope 238 are on hand.

For every pound of fissionable U-235 that is refined, more than 200 pounds of U-238 are automatically obtained. This isotope can be converted into plutonium by bombardment, and plutonium can be used as a nuclear fuel. Too, U-238 that is enriched with U-235 is an acceptable atomic fuel.

Neither of this fuels possesses the breeding characteristics of thorium but from an economic standpoint it may be cheapest to use them. When the AEC released 88.000 pounds of U-235 for power development purposes here and abroad this past spring, it immediately became apparent that we have a vast surplus of useful U-238 on hand. A stockpile of more than 6000 tons of U-238 was obtained when the 88.000 pounds of U-235 were refined.

Another reason why we may be slow in building numerous thorium reactors is that we don’t possess rich deposits of thorium. On the other hand, India is greatly interested in using thorium for power because of the deposits of thorium it possesses.

The usual tendency in any mining operation is to work the richest deposit first. Another tendency is to extract only one or two of the most valuable ingredients from an ore and literally to throw all the rest of the mineral on the dump. Eventually, as our richest mineral resources are used up, it will become standard practice to extract as many as 20 or 30 products from any one mining and milling operation.

In a few unique cases this is being done today. American Potash & Chemical Corporation extracts more than 20 chemicals from the brine that it pumps from alkaline deposits lying under Searles Dry Lake in California. Among other products taken from the brine are table salt, salt cake that is used in fertilizers, soda ash for glass and washing compounds, borax, sodium phosphate, sodium bromide and lithium chloride.

These and other chemicals are removed from the brine in a series of distillation and precipitation steps. Some of these steps are complicated, some are extremely simple. One worth mentioning is the way that Glauber salt is extracted from the brine. This substance precipitates out of solution at 55 degrees or less. At Searles, brine is simply sprayed into the air above the lake bed when the temperature is below 55 degrees. The Glauber salt collects in big piles under the spray heads. The sprays are automatically turned off when the temperature rises above the critical point; otherwise the precipitated material would go back into solution and drain away.

The Searles operation is exceptional because all its minerals are in solution, a situation entirely different than when handling a rocky ore. But it points the way to the metallurgical and chemical tricks that will be devised for extracting numerous ingredients from many kinds of ore.

We know now that even “barren” granite contains a rich variety of metals. And we know that the rock also holds more than enough atomic energy to perform the work of extracting the metals, with energy left over. The time when we will be mining granite may be a long way off, yet it is interesting to speculate on what our resources will be when that time does come.

Suppose that a few centuries from now the United States becomes much more industrialized than it is at present. Suppose, too, that industry in all other parts of the world rises to the same high level. By then, the world population may well have grown to 30 billion persons.

Such a population might consume rock for tis metals and atomic fuels at the rate of 1500 billion tons per year.

Would we soon run out of rock? Hardly. Assuming that all the land areas were available for such processing, man would “eat” his way downward at the rate of less than one tenth inch per year!


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Alfred Tennyson wrote:We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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