Why not Thorium?!

In the increasingly anxious search for a bridge fuel (or fuels) with global availability that will help provide the transition from depleting fossil fuels to  permanent and sustainable future energy sources, thorium could be the answer.  Thorium is a natural, radioactive element that can be used as a nuclear fuel.  Thorium may not be a perfect fuel, but it is a whole lot better than using uranium.

Thorium has a number of major advantages:  

  • Thorium is as plentiful as lead, and the supply is large enough to power mankind for thousands of years.  Uranium deposits will be exhausted in about 80 years at estimated usage rates. 
  • Thorium reactors can be much cleaner, safer, cheaper and smaller than uranium fueled reactors.
  • Thorium has a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles and higher energy yield than uranium.  Almost all of thorium is usable as fuel vs. less than 10% of uranium. 
  • Thorium reactors can be used to burn up plutonium and toxic waste produced by uranium-fueled reactors.
  • Scientists estimate hazardous waste from thorium reactors will be 1,000 times less than uranium reactors.
  • Thorium reactors can operate at atmospheric pressure, eliminating the chance of a hydrogen explosion.
  • Thorium does not have enough neutrons to maintain a chain reaction, it must be bombarded with neutrons for the fission process to continue.  If the neutron bombardment stops, the fission process ends.

So, again, why not thorium?

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.