Science Is Thorium the answer? 


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The Thorium Energy Alliance May 2011 Conference in Washington D.C.

Over the past few months there has been a quiet mumble in world media about the use of Thorium based nuclear reactors.  Both China and India are turning their attention to Thorium.

Thorium is a naturally occurring element discovered in 1828.  A lot of work was done on it at the US Oak Ridge Laboratory in the 1960s, but interest faded. Why?

The arms race for weapons between Russia and the West may have had something to do with it as stockpiles of weapons grade material was accumulated.  You see Thorium does not produce Plutonium for bombs, so presently countries like Iran would not be interested.

Thorium is a much more common element than Uranium.   The US has tons of it that they've buried as a result of rare earth metals mining.  Canada has large reserves of it.

According to some experts, Thorium has some very nice safety features built into it.  According to Kirk Sorensen, 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,

So what is the world waiting for?  It seems that the process is not as efficient as our present reactors once they are up and running. If something happens, however, they are better. The cost of making a Thorium reactor will be lower or so thinks both India and China at least at this stage.  The reason is that less redundant safety issues exist in Thorium Reactors.

Most experts agree that a well designed Thorium reactor would be safer than the ones spread across the world.  The reactions are not self sustaining so you have to work to keep them going, whereas our traditional reactors self sustain and safety systems have to be multi-redundant. 

It all 'boils' down to keeping things cool in the face of equipment failure, human error and natural disaster.  In a Thorium reactor these factors could be further mitigated thus lowering the overall long term cost of construction, in process maintenance and retooling.

You can read more on the Internet.  Just go to Google and type Thorium Reactors.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011