This article is a summary of a YouTube video "Thorium - A METAL THAT NO ONE NEEDS!" by Thoisoi2 - Chemical Experiments!

The Untold Story of Thorium: From Radioactive Metal to Useless Rare Earth Waste

TLDRThorium, a radioactive metal, was once thought to have potential in various applications, but its low concentration in ores and high radioactivity made it less desirable. It is now a waste product in rare-earth metal production, mostly in China. Although it has potential for use in nuclear power plants, current challenges and complications make it an unused resource.

Key insights

🔬Thorium is a radioactive metal that is one of the three most abundant radioactive metals in the Earth's crust.

🌍Thorium has a long half-life of more than 14 billion years, and it is believed to have been synthesized during a supernova or neutron star collision before the formation of the solar system.

🎇Thorium is frequently found in ores containing rare earth elements, such as monazite and gadolinite.

☢️Due to its high radioactivity, thorium was once used in various products, including gas lamps and camera lenses, but it is now considered unsafe and has been replaced with safer alternatives.

🛢️Although thorium has potential for use in nuclear power plants, there are currently no thorium fuel cycle reactors, and its production is not as cost-efficient as uranium fuel.

Q&A

Why is thorium considered a waste product in rare-earth metal production?

Thorium is a byproduct of rare-earth metal production, mainly in China, where more than 80% of global rare earth metals are produced. As there are no significant uses for thorium currently, it is considered a waste product.

What are the potential uses of thorium?

Thorium has potential for use in nuclear power plants, specifically in thorium fuel cycle reactors. However, there are currently no functional thorium fuel cycle reactors, and the production of thorium for such purposes is not as cost-effective as uranium.

Is thorium safe for everyday use?

No, thorium is considered a hazardous material due to its high radioactivity. It was once used in products such as gas lamps and camera lenses, but it has since been replaced with safer alternatives.

Where is thorium most commonly found?

Thorium is most commonly found in ores containing rare earth elements, such as monazite and gadolinite. These minerals can be found in various locations around the world, but they are particularly abundant in Scandinavia.

Why is there a lack of commercial use for thorium?

The lack of commercial use for thorium is primarily due to its low concentration in ores, high radioactivity, and the challenges and complications associated with its use in nuclear power plants. These factors make it less desirable and cost-effective compared to other resources, such as uranium.

Timestamped Summary

00:52This video introduces thorium as a radioactive metal and highlights its abundance in the Earth's crust.

01:43The low concentration of thorium in its ores delayed its discovery, which occurred after the discovery of uranium.

02:25Thorium is frequently found in ores containing rare earth elements, such as monazite and gadolinite.

03:31Thorium was once used in products such as gas lamps and camera lenses, but its high radioactivity made it unsafe and it has since been replaced with safer alternatives.

13:49Thorium has potential for use in nuclear power plants, specifically in thorium fuel cycle reactors, but there are currently no functional reactors and the production process is not as cost-effective as uranium.