Monthly Archives: March 2013

Thorium Plasma Battery – Bunk

I’m always interested in new technology but every once in a while something so obviously bogus hits the net that it clogs the channels of interesting stuff with rubbish, such is the current line of crap surrounding thorium plasma batteries.

The line is that someone spent twelve years developing these nuclear batteries which supposedly last five to ten to twenty to thousands of years depending upon which version you read, and then the DOD sucked it up.  Anywhere from two to half a dozen people bit the dust to cover it up.

No where in any of these postings is there an actual explanation of how these batteries are supposed to work, although there is some cross pollination between them and the so called element 115 space craft Bob Lazar talks about and also between the very real radioisotope thermal electric generators that work by using thermocouples to convert the heat from the radio-active decay of plutonium 238 (and they are experimenting with a few other isotopes) into electricity. These batteries are touted as green because they supposedly use thorium and the articles say they emit the same radiation as a cell phone.

There is so much wrong with the information given I can’t believe a conspiracy theory has actually sprung up around this.  First, thorium is a fertile material like uranium 238, and it is radioactive, although with a half-life of 14 billion years, thorium-232 is not highly radioactive.  By contrast Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years and therefore is slightly more radioactive but not by much.  Uranium 238 is what is referred to as “depleted” uranium, after the small percentage (approximately .7%) of U-235 is removed.

The type of radiation emitted by thorium 232 and uranium-238 is the same, both are alpha emitters.  Some of the daughter elements are beta emitters and have very short half-lives. Both uranium-238 and thorium-232 can absorb a slow neutron to become a fissile isotope and thus be used as nuclear fuel.  Neither are “green” in any common sense of the word.  Thorium is very difficult to make weapons grade material from so it is somewhat preferred as a fuel from an anti-proliferation standpoint.  The type of radiation emitted is entirely different than a cell-phone.  Cell phones emit radio frequency electromagnetic waves, non-ionizing radiation.  Thorium and uranium both emit ionizing alpha particles that can damage DNA and cause cancer.  Being in a plasma state would not diminish the radioactivity of thorium.

If such a thing as a plasma thorium battery exists, which I seriously doubt, there would be nothing green or safe about it.  If anyone knows the theoretical method of operation of these batteries I’d love to hear it though I suspect it will be just as looney as the rest of the claims surrounding it.