alasdairlumsden9 months ago
Molten Salt Reactors can burn more than just Thorium, they can eat existing Nuclear waste stockpiles, which is exactly what Transatomic Power want to do: http://transatomicpower.com/
So I'd say the real technology is the MSR/LFTR, not Thorium. Thorium is definitely an energy source of the future but the attention should be going on the reactor that can best use it. Because the MSR/LFTR design can burn 99% of the fuel rather than the 1% in existing solid fuel reactors, it produces vastly less waste and has the potential to generate energy cheaper than coal. This is a point worth stressing - if it is the cheapest way to produce energy, market forces should hopefully adopt it.
Coal causes over 100,000 deaths annually due to respiratory diseases; 13,000 in the US alone. Coal mining kills over 6000 worldwide annually. A coal plant pumps out vastly more radiation and toxins into the atmosphere than a Nuclear plant does because coal contains radioactive elements and heavy metals which are released as fine particles during the burning process.
We really need a disruptive technology to displace Coal and Gas generation, and MSR/LFTR is it. There is no greater method of energy production other than perhaps Fusion.
Of course, China has seen the potential and are now actively pursuing the technology at their National Academy of Sciences - the project is being headed up by Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin. So this extends right the way to the top of politics over there. They're putting serious money and effort into this, $350M and around 1000 staff. If China is successful, and we have every reason to believe they will be, this will be the biggest game changer in energy in the last 50 years.