A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium...If this has been known since the 1960s, why hasn't it been pursued?
China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball...
“The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. “If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said.
“They operate at atmospheric pressure so you don’t have the sort of hydrogen explosions we’ve seen in Japan. One of these reactors would have come through the tsunami just fine. There would have been no radiation release.” ..
The earth’s crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country’s next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.
US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation.Well, that certainly explains it.
The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs.
China is developing the technology, Norway is considering it. The U.S., as the Republicans have repeatedly pointed out, is "broke." We don't have the money for projects like this (which in any case should be pursued by private enterprise, not a socialist government). And the Obama administration considers it more important to try to tip the balance in a Libyan civil war -
As of Tuesday, the coalition had fired at least 162 sea-launched Tomahawk missiles priced at $1 million to $1.5 million apiece and dispatched B-2 stealth bombers -- round-trip from Missouri -- to drop 2,000-pound bombs on Libyan sites. Total flying time: 25 hours. Operating cost for one hour: at least $10,000.- with the ultimate goal of
It's all comes down to priorities chosen by politicans who can't look beyond the next election cycle.