While Matthew Nisbet opines on peak oil being a uniting cause, this short essay on thorium power is instructive and relevant. – Anthony
Guest post by David Archibald
Early in June, I gave a lecture entitled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” at the Institute for World Politics (a graduate school for the CIA and State Department) in Washington. From that lecture, following are a couple of slides pertaining to the advantage of thorium relative to uranium for nuclear power:
To run a 1,000 MW reactor for a year requires one tonne of nuclear material to be fissioned. In the case of thorium, only one tonne of waste material is produced with 30 to 100 grams of transuranics (Neptunium and plutonium). Alternatively, the Neptunium could be separated from the uranium and burnt separately in a reactor for that purpose, at the ratio of 49 thorium reactors per one neptunium reactor.
The very low level of transuranics from the thorium route compares to the large waste volumes and transuranic content of that waste from the uranium route, shown in the above slide. The one tonne of thorium from the first slide is shown in scale to the 250 tonnes of uranium needed to produce one 1,000 MWyear in the light water reactor route. That 250 tonnes of uranium produces 35 tonnes of enriched uranium, which becomes the spent fuel volume. Of that 35 tonnes, 300 kg is plutonium. The transuranic content of the uranium light water reactor route is some 10,000 times greater than that of the thorium route.
Once the thorium reactor is adopted as the nuclear process of choice, we will be wondering why we bothered with anything else.