The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard notes:
If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape ….
China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik moment”, you could say.
Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.
“The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert.
Professor Robert Cywinksi from Huddersfield University said thorium must be bombarded with neutrons to drive the fission process. “There is no chain reaction. Fission dies the moment you switch off the photon beam. There are not enough neutrons for it continue of its own accord,” he said.
This isn’t quite true. Thorium requires an initiator. Then it propagates like any fission reaction.
Dr Cywinski, who anchors a UK-wide thorium team, said the residual heat left behind in a crisis would be “orders of magnitude less” than in a uranium reactor.
The earth’s crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country’s next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.
US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation.
The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.
Now China is diving full force into developing Thorium reactors based on US research. It is spending 100s of billions on it, while in America two 40 million dollar grants were given to investigate micro-pebble fuel and fluoride salt reactors. 40 million against 500 billion. Who do you think is going to win?
This is UNIVERSE SHATTERING technology. Trump needs to cut ridiculous NSF funding and get at least several billion going to build test thorium reactors in the USA. STAT!