The Function Of A Modern Nuclear Power Device And Process

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Part 1: Explain the function of a modern nuclear power device and process
The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) is a type of molten salt reactor which will generate electrical power. LFTR’s are a hypothetical and innovative solution to the future of power production which are a viable replacement of the current flawed uranium reactors.
Thorium is three times more abundant than uranium (World Nuclear, 2015) which can be used 200 times more efficient than current uranium usage. Thorium also emits alpha particles which is less biologically harmful compared to uranium which emits gamma particles. The radiotoxicity of waste across power production methods can be seen in source 1. The capital costs of thorium reactors are also lower than conventional nuclear reactors; a 1 gigawatt (GW) thorium power plant costs at an estimated $780 million in comparison to capital costs currently of $1.1 billion per GW for a uranium fuelled reactor.

The most prominent nuclear reactors used for electricity generation operate on the uranium fuel cycle. The fuel used in nuclear reactors is composed two primary isotopes: uranium-235 (235U) and uranium-238 (238U). 235U is a fissile isotope of uranium, while 238U is a fertile isotope. Once 238U is hit by a neutron, it will go through radioactive decay and become 239Pu (plutonium- 239), which is fissile. Only 0.7% of naturally occurring uranium is 235U where the vast majority is 238U. Thus, most nuclear reactors use a design where 3-4% of the
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