Thorium cycle, illustration

Thorium cycle, illustration

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Credit: MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Thorium cycle. Computer illustration showing the nuclear fuel cycle that uses the naturally abundant 232 isotope of thorium (Th-232) as the fertile material to produce energy. From top right: Natural thorium (Th-232) absorbs a neutron (blue sphere) from uranium fission to become Th-233. Th-233 decays quickly to protactinium-233, which decays slowly over a month to uranium-233, an ideal fuel. Uranium-233 fissions, releasing energy (white flash) and neutrons (blue spheres) to continue the cycle.

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