Thorium

Thorium

“Thorium-based nuclear power generation is fueled primarily by the nuclear fission of the isotope uranium-233 produced from the fertile element thorium. A thorium fuel cycle can offer several potential advantages over a uranium fuel including the much greater abundance of thorium found on Earth, superior physical and nuclear fuel properties, and reduced nuclear waste production. One advantage of thorium fuel is its low weaponization potential. It is difficult to weaponize the uranium-233 that is bred in the reactor. Plutonium-239 is produced at much lower levels and can be consumed in thorium reactors.

After studying the feasibility of using thorium, nuclear scientists Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller suggested that thorium nuclear research should be restarted after a three-decade shutdown and that a small prototype plant should be built. Between 1999 and 2022, the number of operational thorium reactors in the world has risen from zero to a handful of research reactors, to commercial plans for producing full-scale thorium-based reactors for use as power plants on a national scale.

Advocates believe thorium is key to developing a new generation of cleaner, safer nuclear power. In 2011, a group of scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology assessed thorium-based power as “a 1000+ year solution or a quality low-carbon bridge to truly sustainable energy sources solving a huge portion of mankind’s negative environmental impact.” However, the development of thorium power has significant start-up costs. Development of breeder reactors in general (including thorium reactors, which are breeders by nature) will increase proliferation concerns.”

Considering that there have been thousands of times more deaths from coal mining than from nuclear plants why are we not spending more resources on developing nuclear energy sources. Over  70% of France’s energy is supplied by nuclear plants.

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