Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plugging In To Thorium

We need to take another look at nuclear power for our grid.  I'm not talking about the conventional nuclear plants that produce waste lasting thousands of years, I'm talking about another technology which has been around almost as long but never really utilized, Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, or LFTRS.  LFTRS use Thorium, a waste material left over from mining operations that has to be disposed of.  Since it's a waste product with no other use it would be an understatement to say the fuel costs would be low.  We also have stockpiles of it buried in the desert in containers.  After it's used in a LFTR there is minimal radioactive waste remaining and what there is decays in 100 years or so compared to the waste from a conventional reactor which must be contained for thousands of years.  There are also some interesting and useful byproducts from these reactions, including medically useful isotopes and some rare earth metals, including neodymium.  LFTRS can use the Brayton cycle turbine system which is smaller and more efficient than conventional steam turbines.  Additionally LFTRS can't suffer from a China Syndrome meltdown scenario, they are self regulating.  Since they are inherently safer they don't need large containment vessels and can be built much smaller.
So if they are cheaper, smaller, safer, and leave less waste, why aren't we using them?  It's all about the bombs.  LFTRS don't produce good material for nuclear bombs.  Since we now have plenty of material for enough bombs to pretty much destroy the world it might be time to look at a safer, cheaper, more efficient technology to power our grid, and our EV's.
A very good video over view of LFTRS can be found here:

4 minute overview:
More in depth 25 minute overview:

Great source of info here:

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