Thorium, Another Alternative Energy Choice
From The Tucson Citizen
By Jonathan DuHamel
Thorium has always been an alternative to uranium for fueling nuclear reactors, but it hasn’t gotten much play. That may soon change. According to a report by Doug L. Hoffman at Resilient Earth, the Norwegian government and Westinghouse are beginning a five-year experiment to test thorium as a fuel for the reactors. Read that post for details. The thorium cycle is shown in the graphic below:
Thorium has some advantages over uranium: it is more abundant; it produces less toxic waste products, and its by-products cannot be used in weapons. Thorium reactors can also burn up existing nuclear waste.
According to Hoffman, “If thorium is so fantastic why isn’t it in wide use already? There have been prototype reactors built in the past. A pair of reactors operated in Germany between 1983 and 1989, and three operated in the US between the late sixties and early eighties. Alas, all of these plants were abandoned. In the US, the military was not interested in ‘safe’ atomic reactors, they wanted the enriched uranium and plutonium produced by uranium fueled reactors for use in weapons. The world’s largest consumer of civilian nuclear power turned its back on thorium because it did not produce dangerous enough waste products.”
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