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Can nuclear reactors work in space?

Can nuclear reactors work in space?

Radioisotope power sources have been an important source of energy in space since 1961. Nuclear fission reactors for space have been used mainly by Russia, but new and more powerful designs are under development in both the USA and Russia. Plutonium-238 is a vital power source for deep space missions.

Are there any operational thorium reactors?

Types of thorium-based reactors AHRs have been built and according to the IAEA reactor database, 7 are currently in operation as research reactors.

Is it legal to build a thorium reactor?

Thorium is merely the breeding material – you cannot create a reactor using thorium alone. Possession of Thorium is regulated in the US as a “source material.” Here’s from 10CFR part 40.

What are the problems with thorium reactors?

Thorium cannot in itself power a reactor; unlike natural uranium, it does not contain enough fissile material to initiate a nuclear chain reaction. As a result it must first be bombarded with neutrons to produce the highly radioactive isotope uranium-233 – ‘so these are really U-233 reactors,’ says Karamoskos.

What is the major benefit of thorium reactors?

Thorium-based reactors are safer because the reaction can easily be stopped and because the operation does not have to take place under extreme pressures. Compared to uranium reactors, thorium reactors produce far less waste and the waste that is generated is much less radioactive and much shorter-lived.

Why don’t we use nuclear energy in space?

One big issue with nuclear power in space is that you need to discard the heat somehow, which for RTGs you can only do by radiating the heat. You end up having heat-radiating panels in place of solar panels, with substantially lower energy output per kilogram than solar panels, unless you are very far from Sun.

Are there any nuclear weapons in space?

signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and outer space has been H-bomb free for almost 60 years. But the results of Starfish Prime serve as a warning of what might happen if Earth’s magnetic field gets blasted again with high doses of radiation, either from another nuke or from natural sources such as the sun.

How safe are thorium reactors?

Are there any thorium reactors in the US?

Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time. The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

When did the US give up on thorium?

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. Government.

Is it true that thorium is a naturally fissionable material?

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials. The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material.

What happens when thorium is mixed with uranium?

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor. When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium-235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium-233, which itself is fissionable.