Is Thorium the Biggest Energy Breakthrough Since Fire? Possibly.

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    Sep 12, 2011 1:37 PM GMT
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/09/11/is-thorium-the-biggest-energy-breakthrough-since-fire-possibly/

    So what is the b-f-d about thorium? In 2006, writing in the magazine Cosmos, Tim Dean summarized perhaps the most optimistic scenario for what a Thorium-powered nuclear world would be like:

    What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.


    A clutch of companies and countries are aggressively pursuing Dean’s dream of a thorium-powered world.

    Lightbridge Corporation, a pioneering nuclear-energy start-up company based in McLean, VA, is developing the Radkowsky Thorium Reactor in collaboration with Russian researchers. In 2009, Areva, the French nuclear engineering conglomerate, recruited Lightbridge for a project assessing the use of thorium fuel in Areva’s next-generation EPR reactor, advanced class of 1,600+ MW nuclear reactors being built in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville, France.

    In China, the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and a clutch of Chinese outfits began an effort in mid-2009 to use thorium as fuel in nuclear reactors in Qinshan, China.

    Thorium is more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust. The world has an estimated 4.4 million tons of total known and estimated Thorium resources, according to the International Atomic Energy Association’s 2007 Red Book.

    The most common source of thorium is the rare earth phosphate mineral, monazite. World monazite resources are estimated to be about 12 million tons, two-thirds of which are in heavy mineral sands deposits on the south and east coasts of India. Idaho also boasts a large vein deposit of thorium and rare earth metals.
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    Sep 12, 2011 1:53 PM GMT
    I wish we could get fusion to work on a scalable solution.
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    Sep 12, 2011 1:56 PM GMT
    See and I thought thorium was just something u mine in world of warcraft..... Go figure
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    Sep 12, 2011 2:07 PM GMT
    alphatrigger saidI wish we could get fusion to work on a scalable solution.


    Just to be a bit facetious, it's called solar but I know what you mean.
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    Sep 12, 2011 2:25 PM GMT
    Why would we go to all this trouble to dig up a compound that doesn't pollute our air or water, produces no greenhouses gases, is readily available in areas of the world that don't require economy-ruining military intervention every 17 minutes at the cost of thousands of lives when we can just dig up a compound that pollutes our air and water, produces greenhouse gases and only exists in areas of the world that require economy-ruining military intervention every 17 minutes at the cost of thousands of lives?

    It's nonsense I tell you, nonsense!!
  • Lincsbear

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    Sep 12, 2011 3:44 PM GMT
    It sounds like a great idea in theory.But if we could achieve just one technical breakthrough in energy matters,I think it would have to be super-conductivity at room temperature.That would revolutionize things.Everything we have seen so far in electrical infrastructure/gagdets,etc. would be as nothing to what would then be possible and viable.
    For a start,all electrical machinery would use 90% less power,be much smaller and robust,and considerably cheaper!
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    Sep 12, 2011 8:53 PM GMT
    The thorium reactor has no chain reaction...it dies the instant you switch off the photon beam. It operates at atmospheric pressure and there is no need for electrical cooling pumps ....or even computers!

    I say let's build the damn thing! icon_idea.gif

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    Sep 12, 2011 9:03 PM GMT
    MountainNC saidThe thorium reactor has no chain reaction...it dies the instant you switch off the photon beam. It operates at atmospheric pressure and there is no need for electrical cooling pumps ....or even computers!

    I say let's build the damn thing! icon_idea.gif



    Is a photon beam like a death ray?
  • conservativej...

    Posts: 2465

    Sep 12, 2011 9:19 PM GMT
    It is something one can and would invest in. The first Finnish plant goes online in 2013. Three others are under construction.