Many people reject nuclear energy on principle. Nasty to handle, easy to meltdown, difficult to build – requiring 10 ft. thick concrete walls, hard to store the by-products that go on for hundreds of thousands of years … well the list goes on. But think about the upside, zero carbon footprint, high levels of fairly cheap energy and a 100% safety record in the US. (Yes no one died at Three Mile Island.)
Well WHAT IF you could have the benefits of list two without any of the negatives of list 1? Ta Da, I present to you the miracle of THORIUM. Yes it is possible to create a liquid fuel reactor that operates at one atmosphere (goodbye 10 ft thick walls), utilizes passive safety systems that automatically shut off the reaction when something goes wrong, can be built in a factory and shipped anywhere in the world, produces waste products that are either useful (for medical treatments, satellite / rocket alpha decay engines) OR low in volume with relatively short half lives.
I am, of course, talking about LFTR (Liquid Floride Thorium Reactors). Just consider the waste for a second. LFTR reactors burn 99% of the fuel. Uranium reactors burn 1/2% of the fuel. The other 99%+ is waste. This amazing technology was first built in the 60’s, but was rejected because it could not easily produce weapons (wait… isn’t that a good thing.) Imagine if we could tell Iran or North Korea “OK here is the nuclear energy you crave, but with no weapons capabilities … not interested … I wonder why.”
Thorium reactors are just so fascinating. I encourage everyone to read more about them (see links below). You can spend days reading about all the aspects of this incredible technology. In my view, this is the future of electrical energy generation (as opposed to transportation energy which is a different but equally fascinating discussion.)
My last thought on this topic is that based on rarity, burning uranium for fuel is like burning platinum (Yow), whereas burning thorium for fuel is like burning lead. Plus you don’t have to separate the isotopes of thorium like you have to for uranium to make fuel.
So can Thorium save the World? Is the bear catholic? Does the Pope …. wait … I am on a bad track here. Just read about LFTR. It is amazing.
LFTR in 5 Minutes:
ENERGY CHEAPER THAN COAL by Robert Hargraves
ENERGY FROM THORIUM