The Interesting Case For Thorium Nuclear Power

Posted By on May 28, 2011

Hmm….an interesting concept.  Thorium has numerous innate advantages. One is that it doesn’t produce weaponizable byproducts, but it’s also true that the nature of the metal is such that it produces safer reactors. It burns at a lower temperature, and there’s also a great deal of it around.  The thing to remember is that thorium requires an extra neutron to work. In order to create fuel, you have to add a neutron. If you stop adding the neutron, then the reaction stops.

Wikipedia….The benefits and challenges of Thorium A 2005 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency discusses potential benefits along with the challenges of thorium reactors. According to Australian science writer Tim Dean, “thorium promises what uranium never delivered: abundant, safe and clean energy – and a way to burn up old radioactive waste.” With a thorium nuclear reactor, Dean stresses a number of added benefits: there is no possibility of a meltdown, it generates power inexpensively, it does not produce weapons-grade by-products, and will burn up existing high-level waste as well as nuclear weapon stockpiles. Some benefits of thorium fuel when compared with uranium were summarized as follows:

Weapons-grade fissionable material is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor;

Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;

Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U-235;

 Thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction without priming.

However, unlike uranium-based breeder reactors, thorium requires a start-up by neutrons from a uranium reactor. But experts note that “the second thorium reactor may activate a third thorium reactor. This could continue in a chain of reactors for a millennium if we so choose.” They add that because of thorium’s abundance, it will not be exhausted in 1,000 years.

The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), an educational advocacy organization, emphasizes that “there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 1,000 years.” Reducing coal as an energy source, according to science expert Lester R. Brown of The Earth Policy Institute in Washington DC, would significantly reduce medical costs from breathing coal pollutants. Brown estimates that coal-related deaths and diseases are currently costing the U.S. up to $160 billion annually.”

An Interview with Patrick Cox by WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks, Host, Midday: I’m Dan Rodricks, and you’re listening to a special edition of Midday we call Power Ahead: The Energy Future. We continue our discussion about nuclear power with a specific look at something of international public concern since the tsunami hit Japan. Can even an advanced economy master nuclear power safely? Can nuclear power be safely harnessed?

I’d like now to introduce Patrick Cox to our program. Patrick Cox is an editor with Baltimore-based Agora Financial, our lead collaborator for Power Ahead. Patrick Cox is the editor of Breakthrough Technology Alert, keeping an eye on transformational technologies for investors…

We want to talk to Patrick Cox about thorium nuclear power… Please tell us about thorium nuclear power and the big picture of nuclear renaissance.

Cox: It’s interesting because in the early days of nuclear power, there were two schools. One was the current technology of light water reactors that produce plutonium, which is weaponizable. As a matter of fact, that’s why that technology was chosen, because the military wanted this plutonium in order to build the nuclear stockpile that we all know about. On the other hand, we had people like Edward Teller, who was slandered in Dr. Strangelove, and his friend Alvin Radkowsky, who was the world’s leading reactor designer, who very much were opposed to plutonium-producing nuclear power and wanted to go the direction of thorium.

And thorium has numerous innate advantages. One is that it doesn’t produce weaponizable byproducts, but it’s also true that the nature of the metal is such that it produces safer reactors. It burns at a lower temperature, and there’s also a great deal of it. As a matter of fact, there’s more energy available easily in thorium than there is in uranium, petroleum and coal combined. There’s just an enormous amount of this stuff.

Rodricks: Why isn’t it used now if it’s safer?

Cox: We have this enormous regulatory bureaucracy. If you know anything about the SEC, if you know anything about drug development and how difficult it is to get a drug into the market, that’s easy compared to nuclear reactor design. This is an international agency with huge armed tentacles everywhere, and it’s influenced by the existing players. But it’s happening outside of the United States anyway. If you go to the French, they are developing and have now signed an agreement with Lightbridge, which is the company that was founded initially by Alvin Radkowsky. They’re working on thorium.

The Red Star Russian reactor designer, which serves most of Asia, is working on thorium… There are lots of thorium reactors running, and there are lots of different strategies for bringing thorium into the mix… The thing to remember is that thorium requires an extra neutron to work. In order to create fuel, you have to add a neutron. If you stop adding the neutron, then the reaction stops.

Rodricks: So that’s what gets you to that term I heard you use a little while ago, “meltdown-proof.”

Cox: Right. And there are many different ways of doing that.

Rodricks: So the problems we’re seeing at Fukushima Daiichi, then, with those reactors, is water reactors. So you could see where maybe the world looks at that and then looks at thorium and says maybe we ought to go with thorium?

Cox: It’s inevitable.

Rodricks: Could you put thorium in 104 US nuclear power plants and make them all safer? I mean, could you transition to that?

Cox: Yes. There are many different strategies for getting thorium into the fuel stream. Some of them are as simple as dropping a different fuel rod into the existing light water reactors, which would somewhat improve safety, though in the long run – I think the thing we should realize is these reactors in Japan were 40 years old.

I mean, you don’t drive a car that’s 40 years old. They had made some serious mistakes. Seth Grae, the CEO of Lightbridge, points out that the backup systems on these reactors were all on one circuit, which is absurd. It’s mind-boggling that people who are known for their technical competence had done something that stupid. I mean, the problem of what we really need to do in terms of safety is to move to the next generation of nuclear reactors, which are going to be an order of the magnitude safer than what we have now operating in Japan, in the United States. There are thorium reactors running right now in Russia. I mean, they’re going to go online in the next two years. They’re going to be sold.

Regards,  

Patrick Cox from his interview with Midday’s Dan Rodricks,
for The Daily Reckoning

Read more: http://dailyreckoning.com/

About the author

Comments

9 Responses to “The Interesting Case For Thorium Nuclear Power”

  1. marketplace free ads

    Classifieds Advertising perceives all free,} has learned all.Try sell and purchase you’ll enjoy it.Pets,Business,PROPERTY,Vehicles advertising shows good tastes,Our careers offer is bigger!

  2. Sausalito Ferry Schedule

    I’m really loving the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A small number of my blog audience have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you hav…

  3. betterscooter.com

    this valuable betterscooter.com is the perfect key phrases simply cannot illustrate

  4. Magush} says:

    The Stated Truth

    […] What web host are you the usage of? Can I get affiliate hyperlink to your host? I wish web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol[…]

  5. Don Tigert says:

    Don Tigert

    Look this ripoffreport from ripoffreport.com Don Tigert Don Tigert Don Tigert Don Tigert Don Tigert Don Tigert sala rodd sala rodd sala rodd sala rodd sala rodd sala roddBRIAN WILLIS Brockstar,BROCKSTAR BY BRIAN NELSON WILLIS,Richard Ellenbogen – Bever…

  6. The Stated Truth

    […]I am now not sure where you are getting your info, however good topic.[…]

  7. payday loan says:

    payday loan

    […] payday loan […]

  8. how to share multiple photos on facebook

    list all facebook groups

  9. The Stated Truth

    Once you�ve uploaded these 3 files you will need to configure Scrapebox�s settings in �Settings� >> �Adjust Maximum Connections�. Your connection settings play a huge part in the process. Typical settings that I recommend:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Copyright © 2019 The Stated Truth