Thursday, March 1, 2012

A benefit of the Thorium fuel cycle

This may not be a new idea, but the significance was enough to discuss briefly.  I thought that you would want to be able to handle Uranium 233 from the breeding of Thorium 232, want to be able to make fuel rods for a nuclear thermal engine for a rocket on the moon and Mars.

This is as opposed to using a LFTR design for energy production on the ground.  Wouldn't want to use a LFTR in space because it is liquid, and that may be a problem in space.  However, handling U 233, which is a product of a LFTR on the ground, is a bit of a challenge, as I understand.  But, if you could do this off world, a significant benefit could result.


You would not need to get fuel from the earth anymore.  If you can do this off world, you will be able to eliminate the necessity to lift fuel from off the Earth.   Without having to lift all this fuel from the Earth would make interplanetary space travel much easier than otherwise.

This should be able to reduce costs for deep space missions by a considerable amount, I would think.

One may get it all started by breeding some Plutonium for deep space travel as well.  You could use a small LFTR design for that as a research reactor.  That could get the ball rolling.  NASA needs the stuff for these types of projects, provided that funding could be gotten for it.  Also, Obama has indicated in his budget that he doesn't want these programs anymore.

It would take a change in administrations to bring this into being.

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