Jul 21, 2009

Thorium theory - giving dumb nuclear a brain and a chance...

No one can disagree that nuclear power done wrong can have 'earth changing' effects, but few can agree that modern man can handle all of the waste, cost, water and safety issues surrounding nuclear energy as a replacement for fossil fuels.

Can Thorium theory and Fast Breed save nuclear's and our future? Maybe.

Here is some further insight into both:

Can thorium save the planet? - Prof Bob Cywinski, Huddersfield University
IT is impossible to open a newspaper without reading about climate change.
What is worse is that we are told that it is our fault because it is the carbon produced by the fuels we burn for transport and for energy generation that is driving global warming.

If this is the case, then prospects are gloomy:
the growth in global population stands at 165,000 per day. Assuming each of these new arrivals uses no more energy on average than current inhabitants of the planet then, just to meet their needs,
we will have to build the equivalent of a gigawatt power station somewhere in the world every single day. All of these new power stations, if fuelled with conventional fuels such as oil, gas or coal, will pump an additional 1,300 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere in just one year!

Surprisingly, even if we resorted to "clean" wind power, the cost of building and servicing the windmills would be an extra 13 million tons of carbon annually, not to mention the additional 80 thousand square miles needed for wind farms each year... and we would have to pray that the wind kept blowing!

These are the reasons that the Government has suggested that we simply cannot afford to ignore nuclear power, an energy source with a carbon cost only half that of wind. The problem is that, whether rationally or irrationally, public perception of nuclear power is coloured by issues of safety, the radiotoxicity of its waste, its links to nuclear weapon proliferation and concerns about its vulnerability to terrorism.

Clearly the nuclear option is very controversial. But perhaps there is a more acceptable nuclear alternative.

Thorium is four times more plentiful than uranium.
More importantly only 5,000 tons of thorium can produce all the energy needed by the planet for a whole year.
Although thorium itself doesn't undergo fission, it can be converted to fissile fuel in an energy amplifier. As thorium is burned, unlike uranium, it produces no plutonium, the highly toxic and potent ingredient of nuclear weapons.

In fact, existing plutonium stocks and other nuclear waste can even be burnt as fuel in an energy amplifier, rendering it safe for future generations
Clearly the energy amplifier has the potential to fill the gap of carbon-free nuclear power stations with a safer, cheaper and more sustainable form of nuclear power.

Huddersfield University and scientists from the universities of Manchester and Cambridge, are now developing a viable, cost-effective energy amplifier design developments and offer encouragement to research which might just save the planet. Read full from
Prof Bob Cywinski here

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