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Thorium and the dream of clean nuclear power

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Ok, so what's stopping them from implementing Thorium reactors now? If we have access to this cheaper, safer and cleaner power source, why aren't we using it? Did I miss something in the article?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

this is fascinating stuff, let's hope it becomes commercial reality if it's as simple as the article states.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the billions and trillions of public money it would take to invest in a dying industry would be enough to get us off nuclear entirely the way we want to. Go greener and less radioactive society. But yeah, we'll go with it anyway. Yeesh

Thankfully anyone can do an Internet search on the pros and cons and find out it's not economic and even if it was no insurance company can insure it, which is why the public sucker...taxpayer must pay for it. It's just another corporate scam dance to the same tune

Make energy open market. If it can survive on its own without public dollars then great. If not don't bother

Meanwhile it's 12 C, 5m down in the ground. There's your baseload for air conditioning and the protection to the home in winter. Add a few solar panels and why do I need nuclear? Why does anyone? Molten salt is used in a lot of power systems as it likes to give off heat. It's a way to store intermittent energy like wind and solar and give it a 24/7 ability (Spain example). Since in this case it's not radioactive you can put it anywhere even at tiny scale. Neighbourhood power systems etc.

The nuclear industry just wants more money, to perpetuate large power plants, that no one would need if they just used the energy around them that the planet offers us for free.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Germany had working prototype reactor(s) back in the 1980's and even as far back as 1967. Why isn't it being implemented? Too much invested in current conventional nuclear industry and their lobbying power. Enough said!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fox Cloud Lelean:

" Ok, so what's stopping them from implementing Thorium reactors now? "

A number of technical problems. Plus, Thorium reactors are not suitable for producting Plutonium for nuclear bombs, so they are not attractive for countries like Iran.

But it seems the problems with Thorium reactors are solvable, so unlike the pipe dreams about windmills and solar panels, Thorium can be a realistic solution to the world`s energy needs.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Add a few solar panels and why do I need nuclear? Why does anyone?

Because energy for powering a home is just a small portion of the total energy that needs to be generated.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yeah, so it's not about people, it's about our tax dollars going to businesses who won't pay for it. But invest the billions and billions in renewables and you'll never need nuclear. Put cheaper solutions versus nuclear and you get a lot more bang for the buck. Removing 100,000 homes a year into GHSP/Geothermal/Solar configuration isn't even 5 billion a year. Put the equivalent of a single reactor, say $50 billion a year investment into renewables and we're laughing at nuclear

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hello Zichi. Please inform us?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Put the equivalent of a single reactor, say $50 billion a year investment into renewables and we're laughing at nuclear

You think investing in renewables research leads directly to replacement technology? Science doesn't work that way, sf2k.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

pandabelle:

" You think investing in renewables research leads directly to replacement technology? Science doesn't work that way, sf2k. "

Exactly!! Just like investing in telepathy or warp drives or Mars colonies or perpetuum mobile does not mean any of that stuff works. Fact is, all the "green" energy schemes as of today rely on subsidies, period.

Thorium technology can and does work, but as far as I understand there is a lot of technical glitches that need to be worked out to make it economically feasble.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@WilliB

Fact is, all the "green" energy schemes as of today rely on subsidies, period.

You mean its like nuclear energy which receives the greatest amounts of subsidies by all gov't's. Here in this country, the gov't spends ¥500 billion pa on energy R&D with more than 90% of that going to nuclear energy. In fact, since about 1974, when a law was passed to ensure the nuclear village received subsidies, it has received billions and billions every year since.

There were also subsidies for building the nuclear power plants. And now the gov't is subsidising the clean up at the nuclear disaster site and decontamination work elsewhere. Instead of the money coming from the nuclear village, which made trillions of profits over the decades, the gov't have paid out more than ¥5 trillion. It has just agreed to increase that to ¥10 trillion.

Over the coming 10 years, the nuclear disaster will use up a further ¥25 trillion and before the end of the disaster in more than 100 years from now, it will take more than €50 trillion of gov't subsidies.

Then, there's the problem of storing all the nuclear waste, about 15,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel and tens of thousands of tons of other highly irradiated nuclear waste, which will require safe underground storage for tens of thousands of years. There's the very major problem of storing 45 tons of weapons grade plutonium, enough to produce 5,000 atomic warheads. Plutonium is probably the deadliest substance on the planet.

NUMO which was created to locate and build a nuclear waste storage had met opposition from all the prefectures, because no one wants it in their backyards.

The gov't have paid very few subsidies for renewable energy. There are the Feed In Tariffs since last year but that's paid by the power utilities, and eventually the consumer. So I'm not sure which subsidies you are preferring to.

By around 2030, more than half of the current Gen 2 reactors will reach the end of the life cycle, or coming up to it and will require shutting down and decommissioning. A cost which is suppose to be met by the power utilities but without doubt, they will try and make the case for even more gov't subsidies.

While, the current use of renewable energy can't provide the total power required it will be part of the future energy road and mix and will improve in both costs and technology. The gov't needs to invest in energy research other than nuclear energy which it should aim to end around 2030.

Even if the country continues with the use of nuclear energy, it won't be able to provide more than about 15% of the total power needed and the NRA will probably only approve the starting of about 15 reactors. The other 75% of total power will have have to be generated by non nuclear energy which currently means imported fossil fuels mostly. A good combination could be modern gas turbines and solar energy.

Gen 4 reactors, which might be able to ensure the safety, which the likes of the TEPCO president have been calling for, won't be built because of the vast increases in costs and also opposition to their construction from the local communities.

I can't say if Thorium reactors are currently an answer because they are still many years away from commercial development and may not be available until beyond 2030. Other than that, I don't know enough about them to offer any further points on them.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The notion that renewables doesn't match nuclear is a false comparison. If I had the subsidy equivalent of nuclear I can achieve a home creating more energy than I use using today's techniques. Let alone build a few space stations in orbit around Earth and the Moon. So it's not about reality, it's about the immense amount of cashola off the taxpayer dime and preventing it from being cut off. Once cut off they are not economic and science will be appropriately diverted into doing things that are. But sadly not before.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thorium is not a scheme. This ideal has been around for literally 70 or so years when nuclear energy was first being developed. The developement got shut down after the cool water reactors were readily available and funding stopped.

I was really hoping this would get out to the main stream and I was really skeptical at first because of Fukushima. But this stuff is amazing, powerful a hell of a lot safer because it doesn't use water to cool it. Thorium is abundant and less radioactive.

Perhaps the meltdown in Fukushima put this forgotten, neglected science back in the picture because the uranium reactors are obviously a mad mans invention. Thorium on the other hand is a logical solution. Do some research you might be surprised. This is not the same kind of Russian roulette technology.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Thorium is not completely safe. It still needs a source of neutrons. Just like low recycled uranium.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thorium reactors and fast breeder reactors are basically the same in which it uses metal(ex.sodium) as a Neutron moderator making it difficult to control and useless if and when an accident happens.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Life is a RPG. Putting our resources where we want it affects outcomes. Nuclear reactors cost about $50 billion each. The International Space Station is the most expensive single thing every made by humans at $150 Billion. But that's 3 reactors. If the world was not mentally stuck on nuclear we instead could have been long ago been putting more stations in orbit and around the Moon, maybe even Mars as well and actually becoming the space faring race we have longed dreamed of becoming. Shacking ourselves to nuclear ensures none of this ever happens. It's literally the money pit that holds us back

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Fox, every nuclear powerplant is unique. Even reactors that use the same nuclear technology are different from one another. Power plants generally have large engineering staffs because they are continually improving powerplant efficiency and ginding ways to make them last longer. However large powerplants recieve comissions that are not to be tempered with. In the case of nuclear power plants they are usually built and designed to operate for a period of 40-70 years. That means after the designed operational period and comission have expired they will be dismantled and never used again. Prematurely shutting down a nuclear power plant is a huge deal because simply opening a nuclear power plant is a massive commitment. Technology is always advancing so it was decided that insted of building new powerplants every time new technology is developed they would wait until current powerplants reach the end of their designed lifecycle before committing to new powerplants. You can bet that the next round of nuclear power plants will definitely be leaps and bounds safer and more efficient than what we currently have

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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