I'm not a physicist, and I don't play one on TV, but I have known about the benefits of Thoruim-based power plants for a few years now through research I've done on-line. This obviously does not make me an expert, but I have attempted to pull together some resources for your own research.
Here are some highlights of the issues:
Thorium is a chemical element with symbol Th and atomic number 90. A radioactiveactinide metal, thorium is one of only two significantly radioactive elements that still occur naturally in large quantities as a primordial element (the other being uranium).
- Thorium is very abundant, "In every cubic meter of soil, you have one gram of thorium." Salim Zwein.
- Thorium is four times more abundant than uranium.
- Thorium is hundreds of times more energy dense than uranium.
- Thorium is six million times more energy dense than coal.
Thorium is extremely safe. "You can walk around with it in your pocket."
"There are so many things in our economy, that we deal with every day, that are measurably a hundred, a thousand, even a million times more dangerous." ~ John Kutch.Thorium reactors are known as "walk-away" safe. This means that if, in the event of a failure of the reactor system, a natural disaster such as what happened in Fukushima Japan with the tsunami,or for any other reason, the reactor can just shut down and everyone can walk away safely, without fear of fallout.
"It can't blow up. It's not under pressure. It burns 99% of it's fuel. It can reduce existing nuclear waste. Normal operation range is between seven and eight hundred C. This is where you can create miracles." ~ Jim Kennedy"Wait," I can hear you saying, "This can't be true. If this thorium thing was this good," you say, "we would certainly be using it. Right?" Well, as with many other potentially good things in this world, our government bureaucrats, crony-capitalists, and ne'er-do-wells of all sorts have, conspired, bungled, and botched their way into setting aside this technology and burying it for fifty years.
Is this science fiction, fantasy, unproven theory? None of the above.
"We want people to know this is real, and that our government has done this...They ran it for 22,000 hours. That's five years." ~ Jim Kennedy.In fact, a liquid fluoride thorium reactor was built in 1964 and became operational between '65 to '69 at the Oakridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The director of the laboratory, Alvin Weinberg, was fired for his advocacy of this safer alternative to the type of light-water reactors that he had designed and patented. Why would they do this? You see, thorium reactors do not produce plutonium as a byproduct, and as Jim Kennedy explains, "The government wanted reactors that would create both energy and materials for weapon production." Kennedy further explains that:
"The Department of Energy...60% of their budget is dedicated to creating, maintaining, and doing research on nuclear weapons. They're not trying to figure out how to get oil from sands. That's not their primary business."So, the Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about in his 1961 farewell speech, rears it's ugly head once more. Why would we ever allow these people to be in charge of our domestic energy policies...and in-turn have such a huge influence on our economy?
Another benefit of using thorium would be to reestablish a domestic rare earth mining industry. In the infinite wisdom of government bureaucracy (oxymoron intended), rare earth production in the United States has been regulated nearly out of existence. Rare earth materials are a vital ingredients in nearly all high-technology products made today. But, since thorium is a low-grade radioactive element, and is a byproduct of mining the rare earth deposits, we have allowed China to corner a market that the United States once dominated, and, there by, made ourselves reliant on China for the elements and much of the manufacturing of products like cell phones and other high-tech components.
China has also made the development of thorium power a goal so that they can own the intellectual property (IP) rights (patents). This would mean that if we did begin building thorium reactors, we would have to pay licensing fees to China for technology that we developed 50 years ago.
For these reasons, and others, we should demand that our government removes the barriers to the development of this technology. I have provided links to interesting videos on the subject below. At least take a look at the first one. it gives a basic overview. I have also provided additional links to other resources.
Thorium Energy Alliance
Energy from Thorium
Thorium fuel cycle — Potential benefits and challenges ( IAEA-TECDOC-1450; pdf)