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Old 08-20-2016, 04:42 AM #385
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Half way through the reaction to get from thorium 232 to plutonium 238 is the reaction product U235, which is the isotope of uranium that is the most plentiful. Why use a 1000 Kg of Thorium 232 to get to 100 Kg of uranium 235? Is it not possible to use U235 as your starting element?


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Old 08-20-2016, 05:33 AM #386
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

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Originally Posted by paul1598419 View Post
Half way through the reaction to get from thorium 232 to plutonium 238 is the reaction product U235, which is the isotope of uranium that is the most plentiful. Why use a 1000 Kg of Thorium 232 to get to 100 Kg of uranium 235? Is it not possible to use U235 as your starting element?
Because you still need the highly expensive process of using centrifuges to separate the U-235 from the other isotopes.

Thorium is chemically separable making it MUCH cheaper.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:43 AM #387
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

I get that the thorium is chemically easier to separate, but you still have some U238 and Pu, which aren't. I was thinking more in terms of a fast breading reactor. It could be set up to use the energy for electricity and the actinides are still there which is what you were looking for anyway.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:51 AM #388
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

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Originally Posted by paul1598419 View Post
I get that the thorium is chemically easier to separate, but you still have some U238 and Pu, which aren't. I was thinking more in terms of a fast breading reactor. It could be set up to use the energy for electricity and the actinides are still there which is what you were looking for anyway.
The Thorium fuel cycle is a fast breeder cycle and it yields much more energy than starting with U-238.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:54 AM #389
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

What about U238 and heavy water?
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Old 08-20-2016, 07:05 AM #390
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

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Originally Posted by paul1598419 View Post
What about U238 and heavy water?
Heavy water reactors are 1940s tech. Even back then the scientists that designed them made it clear that moving to liquidized fuel was the next step.

The future is in Molten Salt Reactors.

Using liquid fuel is more efficient from many standpoints, the simplest to explain is from a mechanical standpoint. It's why we don't use coal to power cars and airplanes.

If you have a couple hours I highly recommend watching this documentary.

THORIUM REMIX 2016 - DOCUMENTARY
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Old 08-21-2016, 01:09 AM #391
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Natural uranium is problematic indeed, you need a moderator to slow down the neutrons, but not too much, U238 requires relatively high neutron energy to absorb them at a decent rate.

Using a typical system with fuel rods in (heavy) water doesn't really suffice, liquidized bed fuel could.

For thorium it's different though: neutron capture in a 'conventional' heavy water moderated reactor is feasible.

The main reason we don't see more of thorium is actually uranium. As long as supplies are ample there is no real need to switch to thorium.

In some cases, with India being a good example, switching to thorium is preferable because there are vast domestic reserves of thorium but not uranium. This could guarantee energy independence, once the thorium cycle is actually running no extra uranium is needed anymore.
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Old 08-21-2016, 02:21 AM #392
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

The main problem with U238 as I see it is the number of actinides left over in the waste. They increase the decay half life of the waste considerably. And with all the old fuel deposits from years of doing this, there are many large amounts of waste that were never stored in any way that would insure they're not leaking out in the future. This is the main reason there aren't any new reactors being made now.
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Old 08-21-2016, 11:17 AM #393
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

As im sure many of you folks know there are many planned missions to send humans to Mars in the early-mid 2020's which when you think of it is not very far away! How do you think this will plan out?

I personally think trying to colonize space when we have so many problems on Earth already is going to be a huge mistake. If a colony does indeed make it I wouldn't be surprised if many corporations or governments start to spend huge amounts of money toward supporting them and ignoring the rest of the population.

-Alex
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Old 08-21-2016, 07:22 PM #394
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

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As im sure many of you folks know there are many planned missions to send humans to Mars in the early-mid 2020's which when you think of it is not very far away! How do you think this will plan out?

I personally think trying to colonize space when we have so many problems on Earth already is going to be a huge mistake. If a colony does indeed make it I wouldn't be surprised if many corporations or governments start to spend huge amounts of money toward supporting them and ignoring the rest of the population.

-Alex
They are already prepping to test the RS-25 engine that Space X plans to use.

Out at mars solar power barely works for probes. (The largest mars rover maxes out at 130 watts) To supply the power humans and related support systems you will need a small MSR.



MSRs were tested in the 60s. It is just a matter of building one designed to be used in space. Likely to be attached to the ISS for testing and we will see the first nuclear engineer in space.

As to why explore space in light of problems on Earth?

A. Living in space is the ultimate in recycling/resource management. The less you have to bring with you to live the better. Those lessons can be applied directly to reducing the negative impacts of humans on the environment.

B. Where do you think we are going to go when we run out of room here on earth?

C. What better way to protect the Earths environment than by moving some of the population into space to the point less and less people live on Earth.

There was a plan to capture an asteroid and park it around the moon so we could use it for a space station. NASA considers plan to capture an asteroid and turn it into a space station *Link*

However we recently discovered we have 2 moons.

I hope they revive the idea.

IMHO humanity is about to become an interplanetary species.

My minimal criteria for being an interplanetary species would be a self sustaining human life support system in orbit. (A space station that never needs re-supplied).
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:24 AM #395
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

In depends on what the goal of such a space station is. If it is to preserve humanity in case earth is so badly damaged no humans survive, low orbit might not be the safest place to be. A big asteroid impact (say like the one that formed the moon) would obliterate things in an orbit like ISS'.

A colony on mars or perhaps a moon of jupiter would stand far better chances.

One question would be if people actually would want to live in such a place. It would have to be an enclosed space, limited in size to what we can transport. Essentially it would be like a prison, probably including bad food and all. It would also be pretty lawless, it's not likely police will be dispatched to mars if you kill someone to steal someones lunch, and/or make him your luch since meat will be scarse there.
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Old 08-22-2016, 07:24 PM #396
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Alien Megastructure? 'Tabby's Star' Continues to Baffle Scientists
Alien Megastructure? 'Tabby's Star' Continues to Baffle Scientists

Interesting. Not sure if I believe it's "aliens", but it at least makes me wonder.
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Old 08-23-2016, 01:04 AM #397
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

That's curious indeed, has been in the news for quite some time, and i bet it's some kind of natural phenomenon.

One question is what we'd do if we had the technology. By the time you could build such large structures in space, you'd probably be able to attempt terraforming venus. This would be a huge technical operation we are no where near capable of now, but it could be done at some point.

Mars would be another option, but fundamentally difficult since it's too light to hold an atmosphere. This would mean living under a dome forever.

Venus is perfect in terms of mass if we can remove the current atmosphere. Downside is you get 'days' that last about 4 months effectively on there, but people survive near the poles with polar days and nights that last for months as it is.
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Old 08-23-2016, 04:42 AM #398
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benm View Post
That's curious indeed, has been in the news for quite some time, and i bet it's some kind of natural phenomenon.

One question is what we'd do if we had the technology. By the time you could build such large structures in space, you'd probably be able to attempt terraforming venus. This would be a huge technical operation we are no where near capable of now, but it could be done at some point.

Mars would be another option, but fundamentally difficult since it's too light to hold an atmosphere. This would mean living under a dome forever.

Venus is perfect in terms of mass if we can remove the current atmosphere. Downside is you get 'days' that last about 4 months effectively on there, but people survive near the poles with polar days and nights that last for months as it is.
Yeah, we'd also need to be able to manage a planet's temperature pretty well too. Venus being located at 0.72AU to the Sun means it will get quite a bit warmer and as the years go by and may become inhabitable unless we can properly cool it. In terms of short term Venus may be a good idea, but long term Mars would make more sense as it won't get "eaten" by our parent star

-Alex
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:23 PM #399
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Explanation: That's no meteor. While watching and photographing this year's Perseid Meteor Shower, something unexpected happened: a gigantic jet erupted from a nearby cloud. The whole thing was over in a flash -- it lasted less than a second -- but was fortunately captured by an already-recording digital camera. Gigantic jets are a rare form of lightning recognized formally only a few years ago. The featured high resolution color image, taken near the peak of Shikengkong mountain in China, may be the best image yet of this unusual phenomenon. The same event appears to have been captured simultaneously by another photographer, further away. The gigantic jet appears to start somewhere in a nearby thundercloud and extend upwards towards Earth's ionosphere. The nature of gigantic jets and their possible association with other types of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as blue jets and red sprites remains an active topic of research.

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Old 08-23-2016, 06:37 PM #400
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Default Re: Space Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razako View Post
Explanation: That's no meteor. While watching and photographing this year's Perseid Meteor Shower, something unexpected happened: a gigantic jet erupted from a nearby cloud. The whole thing was over in a flash -- it lasted less than a second -- but was fortunately captured by an already-recording digital camera. Gigantic jets are a rare form of lightning recognized formally only a few years ago. The featured high resolution color image, taken near the peak of Shikengkong mountain in China, may be the best image yet of this unusual phenomenon. The same event appears to have been captured simultaneously by another photographer, further away. The gigantic jet appears to start somewhere in a nearby thundercloud and extend upwards towards Earth's ionosphere. The nature of gigantic jets and their possible association with other types of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as blue jets and red sprites remains an active topic of research.

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