One new idea (to me) is “accelerator-driven subcritical reactors” that generate energy by the fission of lighter elements such as thorium without requiring a critical mass. Such reactors would never lead to meltdowns such as Fukushima and Chernobyl.
Although not mentioned in the book being reviewed, I would like to take this opportunity to promote another technology involving thorium that has been in our possession since 1945 which holds the promise of solving the world’s energy problems for a thousand years. I won’t worry about what happens after that. This is the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR).[i] The only reason this specific reactor technology was dropped is that it has no military applications. It can’t meltdown either. You can really see why the fossil-fuel-funded politicians object. Victor Stenger
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A nuclear reactor consumes certain specific fissile isotopes to make energy. The three most practical ones are:
- Uranium-235, purified from natural mined uranium. Most nuclear power has been generated this way.
- Plutonium-239, transmutated from Uranium-238, from natural mined uranium. Plutonium is also used for weapons.
- Uranium-233, transmutated from Thorium-232, from natural mined thorium. That is the subject of this article.
Some believe thorium is key to developing a new generation of cleaner, safer nuclear power. According to an opinion piece (not peer-reviewed) published in a major scientific journal, considering its overall potential, thorium-based power “can mean a 1000+ year solution or a quality low-carbon bridge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.”
After studying the feasibility of using thorium, nuclear scientists Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller suggested that thorium nuclear research should be restarted after a three-decade shutdown and that 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 and Russia.
[i] Richard Martin, Superfuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); see also Stenger, God and the Atom, pp. 179-83.