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Thorium nuclear

How nuke got bad…
In 1944 Hyman Rickover’s team came to Oak Ridge to learn of the potential of nuclear power for the US Navy. Rickover favored sodium-cooled reactors, but Weinberg convinced the Navy that the simpler, more compact pressurized water reactor (PWR) would fit better in a submarine. In 1955 Rickover’s atomic-powered Nautilus was launched.

“Thus was born the pressurized-water reactor—not as a commercial power plant, and not because it was cheap or inherently safer than other reactors, but rather because it was compact and simple and lent itself to naval propulsion.” Weinberg went on, “It was chosen for Shippingport after President Eisenhower had vetoed the Navy’s proposal to build a nuclear aircraft carrier powered by a larger version of the Nautilus power plant. A demonstration of a power plant that would operate as part of an electrical utility was being urged by the Atomic Energy Commission. The only reactor that was on hand was the one designed for the canceled aircraft carrier.” A hundred commercial PWR-style electric power plants were consequently built by US utilities and staffed largely by veterans of the Navy’s nuclear submarine corps. Weinberg was long astonished at the resulting 100% US market dominance.

Although “Rickover’s thorium-based U-233 seed-blanket light water breeder” at Shippingport also demonstrated a 1.01 breeding ratio, producing more fissile fuel than it consumed, Weinberg was disappointed that the public hardly noticed this proof that the world had an inexhaustible energy source – thorium.



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