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ERIC Number: EJ1173288
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Thorium and Molten Salt Reactors: "Essential Questions for Classroom Discussions"
DiLisi, Gregory A.; Hirsch, Allison; Murray, Meredith; Rarick, Richard
Physics Teacher, v56 n4 p253-256 Apr 2018
A little-known type of nuclear reactor called the "molten salt reactor" (MSR), in which nuclear fuel is dissolved in a liquid carrier salt, was proposed in the 1940s and developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s. Recently, the MSR has generated renewed interest as a remedy for the drawbacks associated with conventional uranium-fueled light-water reactors (LWRs) in use today. Particular attention has been given to the "thorium molten salt reactor" (TMSR), an MSR engineered specifically to use thorium as its fuel. The purpose of this article is to encourage the "TPT" community to incorporate discussions of MSRs and the thorium fuel cycle into courses such as "Physics and Society" or "Frontiers of Physics." With this in mind, we piloted a pedagogical approach with 27 teachers in which we described the underlying physics of the TMSR and posed five essential questions for classroom discussions. We assumed teachers had some preexisting knowledge of nuclear reactions, but such prior knowledge was not necessary for inclusion in the classroom discussions. Overall, our material was perceived as a real-world example of physics, fit into a standards-based curriculum, and filled a need in the teaching community for providing unbiased references of alternative energy technologies.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A