Research in ongoing into using thorium as a nuclear fuel instead of uranium or plutonium.
In recent years there has been renewed interest by experts in using thorium as a nuclear fuel in place of uranium to create nuclear power. Thorium, as well as uranium and plutonium, can be used as fuel in a nuclear reactor. According to proponents, a thorium fuel cycle offers several potential advantages over a uranium fuel cycle, including much greater abundance on Earth, superior physical and nuclear properties of the fuel, enhanced proliferation resistance (not easily weaponized), and reduced nuclear waste production.
Thorium is thought by some to be important to developing a new generation of clean and safe nuclear power.According to one scientific journal considering its overall potential, thorium-based power "can mean a 1000+ year solution or a quality low-carbon bridge to truly sustainable energy sources solving a huge portion of mankind’s negative environmental impact." In contrast, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and some other groups say thorium doesn’t solve nuclear safety and waste issues nor improve the economics of nuclear power, and that difficult technical hurdles impede possible commercialization.
Nuclear scientists Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller, considered the “father of the ‘H’ bomb,” after studying the feasibility of using thorium, suggested that thorium nuclear research should be restarted after a three-decade shutdown, and a “small prototype plant should be built.” Research and development of thorium-based nuclear reactors, primarily the Liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), MSR design, has been or is now being done in India, China, Norway, U.S., Israel andRussia. Although, according to Baroness Worthington, a thorium advocate who visited China with a team from Britain's National Nuclear Laboratory, "China is the country to watch."
- ^ a b c d "Should We Consider Using Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors for Power Generation?", Environmental Science & Technology, July 6, 2011
- ^ Arjun Makhijani and Michele Boyd. "Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power". Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
- ^ a b "Proliferation Warnings On Nuclear 'Wonder-Fuel', Thorium". Science Daily. Dec. 5, 2012.
- ^ a b c Andrew T. Nelson (September/October 2012 vol. 68 no. 5 33-44). "Thorium: Not a near-term commercial nuclear fuel". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
- ^ a b c d e f Moir, Ralph W. and Teller, Edward. “Thorium-fueled Reactor Using Molten Salt Technology”, Journal of Nuclear Technology, Sept. 2005 Vol 151 (PDF file available)
- ^ "Edward Teller, Global Warming, and Molten Salt Reactors", Nuclear Green Revolution, March 1, 2008
- ^ Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. "China blazes trail for 'clean' nuclear power from thorium", The Telegraph, U.K., Jan. 6, 2013