Yes you can make nuclear weapons from thorium, as well as from uranium

Uranium 233 is fissionable, and you can make bombs out of it. And the best part of all is that it can be purified chemically out of the spent fuel of the thorium reactor.

Nuclear Weapons for the Masses . The Greenroom  August 31, 2010 by Steven Den Beste“.……Thorium reactors use natural thorium, which is isotope 232. There are a lot of neutrons running around in there; it’s how reactors work. If an atom of thorium 232 absorbs a neutron, it becomes isotope 233.  Some will fission, but some won’t.

Thorium 233 beta decays (HL 22 minutes) to proactinium 233, which beta decays (HL 27 days) to uranium 233.

Uranium 233 is fissionable, and you can make bombs out of it. And the best part of all is that it can be purified chemically out of the spent fuel of the thorium reactor. You don’t have to mess around with gas diffusion or centrifuges.

If, as some propose, there’s a thorium reactor buried in every backyard, you could face the possibility of pretty much any dedicated extremist being able to build nuclear weapons.The Greenroom » Nuclear Weapons for the Masses!

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3 Responses to “Yes you can make nuclear weapons from thorium, as well as from uranium”

  1. grlangworth Says:

    232U always occurs with 233U — its high gamma output leaves an indelible easy to see signature, and 232U’s persistent presence with 233U (especially in the LFTR fuel cycle) is expensive / complicated to remove from the 233U. Also, the LFTR’s 700 K operating temperature precludes all but specialized remote handling.

    The neutron bomb was designed to deliver a dose of 80 sievert (Sv) 100 rems = 1 Sv. After a brief bout of nausea, many of those hit with between 5-50 Sv of radiation will experience a temporary recovery lasting days to weeks.
    However, a properly engineered LFTR can meet or exceed the radiation and lethality effects of a neutron bomb at the 100 Sv radiation level.

    Similar to 238Pu of the plutonium fuel cycle, the LFTR fuel’s companion isotope 232U generates intense heat due to alpha radioactive decay and has a specific heat generation capacity of 740 W/kg without accounting for the contribution to the decay heat from the daughter isotopes.

    When the daughter isotopes are considered, the maximum heat generation of 232U increases to 4,440 W/kg.

    Besides hard gamma radiation, this intense heat generation from the LFTR’s bare-sphere 233U critical mass will greatly complicate and delay proliferation efforts, increasing deadly effectiveness of the radiological deterrents.

    For example, the use of simple lead gamma shielding is made useless because the tennis-ball-sized 233U bare-sphere would quickly melt through or distort the lead shielding.

    The 233U salt will be white hot, intensely radioactive, and stay that way for an
    indefinite time.

    It’s not enough to check your isotope tables.

  2. Simon Gunson Says:

    That’s a slightly hysterical response. U233 will only be dangerous if contaminated by a reasonable amount of U232.

    For the purpose of use in an atomic bomb the contamination must be below 0.5% and at those levels the material will not be white hot. The trick is to chemically separate Uranium 233 from Proactinum 233 and Thorium 232 as quickly as possible after irridation occurs.

    Heisenberg revealed at Farm Hall on 14 August 1945 that Germany had a project to build an Atomic bomb which he called a Proactinum bomb. An infomer for the OSS named Respondek revealed this was actually a uranium bomb, thus undoubtedly a U233 A-bomb project.

  3. Simon Gunson Says:

    During World War 2 Heisenberg proposed at the Harnak Haus conference of nuclear scientists that there were three methods to obtain fissile bomb material: (1) Enrich U235 from natural 0.7% (2) breed and reprocess Plutonium from a nuclear reactor (3) harvest Protactinium 233. Heisenberg advocated the third method be adopted. heisenberg worked on a project led by Swiss Nazi, Dr Walter Dallenbach to build a particle accelerator which we today call a spherical Tokamak to artificially irridate Thorium at an underground complex beneath Gandau airfield on the outskirts of Breslau in Silesia. The irridation process took just 60-90 seconds per batch. With such short irridation times there was no risk of breeding dangerous Uranium 232. Uranium 232 is bred because of the over exposure of Thorium to radiation in the Protactinium harvesting process. Natural Thorium is 99.02% isotopically pure. Over exposure in a reactor is why Uranium 233 is mostly impractical but not with a particle accelerator it isn’t.

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