Thorium-based nuclear power is nuclear reactor-based electrical power generation fueled, ultimately, by the element thorium. According to proponents, a thorium fuel cycleoffers several potential advantages over a uranium fuel cycle—including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear fuel properties, and reduced nuclear waste production. However, it suffers from higher production and processing costs, and lacks significant weaponization potential. Since about 2008, nuclear energy experts have become more interested in thorium to supply nuclear fuel in place of uranium to generate nuclear power.
A nuclear reactor consumes certain specific fissile isotopes to make energy. The three most practical ones are:
- Uranium-235, purified from natural mined uranium. Most nuclear power has been generated this way.
- Plutonium-239, transmutated from Uranium-238, from natural mined uranium. Plutonium is also used for weapons.
- Uranium-233, transmutated from Thorium-232, from natural mined thorium. That is the subject of this article.
Some believe thorium is key to developing a new generation of cleaner, safer nuclear power. According to an opinion piece (not peer-reviewed) published in a major scientific journal, considering its overall potential, thorium-based power “can mean a 1000+ year solution or a quality low-carbon bridge to truly sustainable energy sources solving a huge portion of mankind’s negative environmental impact.”
After studying the feasibility of using thorium, nuclear scientists Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller suggested that thorium nuclear research should be restarted after a three-decade shutdown and that a small prototype plant should be built. Research and development of thorium-based nuclear reactors, primarily the Liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), MSR design, has been or is now being done in India,China, Norway, U.S., Israel and Russia.
China Is Using US Research to Take the Lead on Thorium Reactor Development | Motherboard – Includes good video from Thorium advocates
THE THORIUM PROBLEM – Danger of existing thorium regulation to U.S. manufacturing and energy sector
Thorium reactors and their feasibility: Thomas Drolet on Cambridge House
The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor: Why Didn’t This Happen (and why is now the right time?)
Robert Hargraves – Thorium Energy Cheaper than Coal @ ThEC12
India’s experimental Thorium Fuel Cycle Nuclear Reactor [NDTV Report]
ORNL Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Experiment Researchers – Dick Engel & Syd Ball – Dinner & Interview
Articles about dangerous current nuclear technology
Recent disclosures of tons of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima reactors spilling into the ocean are just the latest evidence of the continuing incompetence of the Japanese utility, TEPCO. The announcement that the Japanese government will step in is also not reassuring since it was the Japanese government that failed to regulate the utility for decades. But, bad as it is, the current contamination of the ocean should be the least of our worries. The radioactive poisons are expected to form a plume that will be carried by currents to coast of North America. But the effects will be small, adding an unfortunate bit to our background radiation. Fish swimming through the plume will be affected, but we can avoid eating them. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-perrow/fukushima-forever_b_3941589.html?view=print&comm_ref=false