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8 Comments

  1. Your understatement! Isn’t the point – thats $4600 times some huge amount of energy from bred fuel?

  2. This reminds me of Jared Diamond’s “Collapse,” how societies choose to fail or succeed. At least we’re not spending more to destroy the stuff than we’re spending on ethanol subsidies.

  3. the actual price of gold is more like $16500 per pound. It is approximately $1100 a troy ounce, with about 15 troy ounces per pound as opposed to 16 ounces avurdupoise per pound.

  4. I would very much like to thank Rod for covering this “Thorium” topic on his influential Blog.
    Many Thorium advocates would dearly love to save America’s U-233 which is a very rare synthetic material (significantly more rare than any financial precious metal). U-233 is the most natural and arguably the best material to serve as a startup charge for a LFTR Thorium reactor (a LFTR could be started on a wide variety of fissile materials at the expense of greater complexity and cost – especially in the LFTRs supporting chemical plant – U-233 permits the most simple and natural solution to starting a LFTR in a pure thorium fuel cycle).
    What was not mentioned in the Blog article is the fact that U-233 is also the precursor of important radio-isotopes for treating many forms of cancer. Late stage human clinical trials of new alpha particle monoclonal antibody medicines indicate they are highly effective for selectively killing leukemia cancer cells. There is supplementary work being performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York by Dr. David A Schienberg, the current chair of Experimental Therapeutics Center, who together with his collaborators are using alpha particle monoclonal antibody medicines to target and treat other forms of cancer (colon, renal, and gastric cancer) and to significantly improve patients’ chances of survival and cure. Some of the best of the new alpha particle monoclonal antibody medicines are based on two progeny isotopes of Uranium 233 (bismuth 213 and actinium 225). The only source of these progeny isotopes derived from Uranium 233 are from two Department of Energy National Laboratories (Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratory) who are preparing to act under instructions from Congress to destroy and dispose of all national holdings of U 233 as a “waste” material having no currently funded DOE programmatic interest. DOE is currently working under instructions from Congress to consolidate and reduce in quantity all special nuclear material that are not required for specific currently funded department programs which could be the object of a potential terrorist attack. To reduce security costs, DOE plans to consolidate the special nuclear material at fewer sites and dispose of material it perceives it no longer needs. Uranium 233 is a special nuclear material, a material that can be used to create a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Uranium 233 is a material that is most well suited for building Thorium power reactors for generating electricity and has never, to my knowledge, been used to make a nuclear weapon. It is conceivable, but improbable, that U 233 could be used to make some form of weapon so the material has to be carefully stored in a secure location with other strategic nuclear materials. The current small national holdings of Uranium 233 are needed for manufacture of very valuable medical radioisotopes for use with new advanced monoclonal antibody based cancer treatment. The destruction of all the national holdings of Uranium 233 is a blunder that will cost very conservatively thousands of lives of leukemia cancer patients.
    In the past the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy has expressed interest in obtaining the U 233 material but did not receive the very modest funding required to take custodianship and securely store this material. Thorium advocates ask DOE Labs to delay their plans to destroy and dispose of all national holdings of Uranium 233 and hope a letter writing campaign might succeed in saving this rare and valuable material from destruction through a tremendous blunder. The DOE Inspector General, Gregory H. Friedman, has estimated in his DOE Special Report IG 0795 of May 2008 that the current costs of storing America’s small holdings of U 233 are $60,000/year and the costs to destroy and dispose of this material to be approximately $5,000,000.00. The cost in research facilities and labor to originally make the U 233 is much higher and is well in excess of 2 billion in current US dollars. In his special report, the DOE Inspector General strongly argued to DOE management that DOE should retain the U 233 material it posses because of its value to the medical and research communities.
    For reasons that are unclear, DOE management is currently proceeding with plans to destroy all American holdings of U 233 as “waste” and are now at a very advanced stage preparatory to the final destruction and disposal of this rare and valuable material.

  5. It occurs to me that safe storage of this U233 is easily done. Store it anywhere we already have nuclear weapons. The infrastructure for safe-keeping is already in place. And it becomes a non-target for terrorists — why steal the U233 and then go through all the bother of producing a bomb from it, when there are bombs all built and ready to go at the same location?

  6. Absolute bureaucratic insanity. I would like to think that Dr. Chu knows nothing about this.
    If he does, and has not put a stop to it, it belies either his nuclear expertise, or his pro-nuclear agenda. And if he does not know, it calls into question his abiltiy as an administrator.

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