Thorium Is About to Explode (Video)
Thorium Is About to Explode Video – Bill Still
Scientists at the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) in the Netherlands, are starting to conduct experiments with thorium molten salt reactor technology.
Surprisingly, nuclear reactors have the lowest fatality rate per watt generated of all other forms of energy generation. However, there are many drawbacks; uranium used for fuel is expensive to process. It can also be adapted for use in the most horrible weapons humankind has ever developed.
Waste products of the uranium fuel cycle can remain dangerous for centuries into the future and no good disposal scheme has been developed that is acceptable to everyone.
Using thorium instead of uranium solves most of the problems.
Thorium is abundant. It doesn’t require an expensive enrichment process to be use as fuel in a nuclear power plant. It can’t be made into bombs and a thorium-fueled reactor is inherently safe that shuts down automatically if something goes wrong. Lastly, the waste products have much shorter half-lives and are much easier to deal with.
Thorium reactors were successfully tested at Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee from the 1960s until 1976. Since the U.S. was at that time more interested in creating nuclear weapons than safer energy generation, the thorium option was abandoned.
Now the Netherlanders have picked up the ball and are running with it. There are some technical problems to solve, such as the corrosive effects of long-term exposure to the high-temperature thorium salts used in the fuel cycle, but these are seen as relatively easy to overcome.
However, the Netherlanders are not the only ones in this race. The Chinese announced nearly 2 years ago that they were working on a molten salt thorium reactor and plan he have a commercial version up and running by 2026.
But there is an even more interesting player in the thorium race – Norway. At an underground test site in Halden, Norway, Thor Energy has built a small thorium test reactor. It currently powers a nearby paper mill, which it has done since – catch this – since 2013.
Thor Energy says their’s is a 5-year experiment. When it comes to an end – NEXT YEAR – the fuel rods will be disassembled and analyzed to see if thorium is ready for commercial reactors. The project has had the financial backing of Westinghouse Electric, one of the world’s largest producers of nuclear reactors.