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Thorium

I, like many nerds, discovered the possibility of thorium as a nuclear fuel from acomplex documentary starring thorium fanatic, NASA scientist, and brain-trust Kirk Sorensen.  You’d have to have a doctorate in physics to break down all the information Sorensen spews, but here’s what makes thorium exciting as a possible “clean” nuclear energy source:

Thorium, named after the Norse god of thunder Thor, is plentiful in the earths crust, burns almost completely in a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), which is orders of magnitude safer than the uranium reactor, and it is also capable of burning spent nuclear waste.

How plentiful is thorium? A cubic meter of…Full Celsias Article

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About Raegan

3 comments

  1. Thanks for the video Raegan. If you haven’t seen the guys over at Brave New Climate, you may wish to take a peek. Here’s the link for one of their most recent articles that includes thorium as part of the picture:

    The Guardian questions: thorium, shale gas, off-grid renewables, and much more… «
    BraveNewClimate http://bit.ly/rFmQ4c

    Unlike most of my environmental peers, I believe molten salt reactors, and in particular LFTR technology should be developed into a commercial energy source. I’m not quite as… uh… enthusiastic as Sorensen is when it comes to his comparisons between LFTR and wind, solar, geothermal, etc. And he’s also prone to playing a bit fast and loose with some of his science. But I believe he’s correct about the use of thorium. I’ll review this video again and see if I can get it passed around more 🙂 — @tweetingdonal

  2. Thanks so much Larry! Sorensen also is a bit hard to follow at times. I think Thorium along with a collection of alternative energy tech is the way to ween ourself off our fossil fuel addiction. Let’s just hope people get smart enough to throw some money behind their development.

  3. You know if it wouldn’t be a total abandonment of my personal ethics, and if the situation wasn’t so dire, I would be tempted to join the other side just to illustrate just how pointless and dangerous this type of thing can be.Yes, thorium itself cannot be used to make nuclear weapons – that is hardly the point. But the fact is that there is nothing intrinsic about thorium itself that makes its potential fuel-cycles any more proliferation resistant that those of uranium. Furthermore, proliferation should not even be an element in this conversation, because the path any nation would take to construct a nuclear arsenal would not take it through its power reactor sector. Nor does nuclear energy need protection from amateurs seeking to make a nuclear bomb – the whole idea is so patently ridiculous that it hardly needs to be addressed let alone taken seriously. The bottom line is that the decision to embark on a nuclear weapons program is one made at the highest levels, and done in the full knowledge that the creation of a militarily significant number of weapons (a nuclear weapon being an explosive nuclear device and a delivery system) will be extremely expensive, and have profound geopolitical consequences. It is not something that a country is ‘tempted’ to do just because they can. Nor does thorium have any great advantages in the area of nuclear waste. Used the only way it practically can be now, in standard reactors, it needs reprocessing with all its attendant wastes, and leaves left over material to be dealt with. Claims by MSR supporters are not proven as the back-end process that they envision has not yet passed from theory and the wastes produced have not yet been established as any less of a hazard than those from current reactors.As well like proliferation, nuclear waste ‘problems’ are artificial constructions created to inhibit the growth of nuclear energy, and nothing is going to stop those still opposed from simply telling a new set of lies about thorium. Lies that are going to be just as difficult to fight as the current ones, exacerbated by the fact that they will be seen as exposing the ‘truth’ that current supporters of thorium tried to hide.The situation with the climate and other impacts of the pollution caused by fossil-fuels are the only things that should be on the minds of nuclear supporters, because nuclear is the only way out of the mess that doesn’t involve a collapse in our standard of living or worse, and time is running out. There is no time for this sort of debate. In a world where nations like Germany intend to do away with nuclear, where many others are reconsidering a commitment to nuclear power, and where there are still nations like Australia where nuclear technology was stillborn, the focus now needs to be on promoting builds with what we have. Nerdy arguments over which GenIV designs are best and hollow promises about thorium do not advance that agenda, and may well do harm to it.

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