Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

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posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 06:54 AM
The potential of Thorim has been discussed on this site before back in 2007.


This is from the Telegraph

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday - produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. "It’s the Big One," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

"Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels," he said. Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium.

I must say this does sound like an exciting fuel. I like the fact that it eats its own hazardous waste and can even eat that of Uranium and Plutonium. Could be used in Chernobyl?

More from the Telegraph

You might have thought that thorium reactors were the answer to every dream but when CERN went to the European Commission for development funds in 1999-2000, they were rebuffed.

Brussels turned to its technical experts, who happened to be French because the French dominate the EU’s nuclear industry. "They didn’t want competition because they had made a huge investment in the old technology," he said.

There is the same old problem with the energy cartels who try to prevent the spread of alternative energies to the 'dirty fuels'.

It would seem the bigest growth will be in the emerging economies and mabye in the U.S.. But would the Obama administration have the stomach to take on the nuclear looby in the U.S. and argue for the replacement of Uranium with Thorium?

So Aker is looking for tie-ups with the US, Russia, or China. The Indians have their own projects - none yet built - dating from days when they switched to thorium because their weapons programme prompted a uranium ban.

Billions have been provided in loan gurantees to encourage the expansion on the use of Nuclear powere in the U.S. why not funnel some of that to building Thorium based sites?


Surely if the U.S. could show the benefits of Thorium powered reactors they could export the technology to places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel and anyone else developing a Nuclear programme to replace any Uranium powered sites?

This would take the risk of nuclear weapons being built out of the equation, as it is nigh on impossible to use Thorium in a weapon because of its high output of Gamma rays.

Any thoughts?

Links to Thorium related sites.


[edit on 31-8-2010 by Peruvianmonk]

+4 more 
posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:12 AM
If Obama tried such a bold move of getting rid of nuclear energy for something free and clean,he would be assassinated.
Taking money out of their pockets will get him killed,much like it did for JFK for challenging the Federal Reserve.(my opinion)

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:13 AM
reply to post by Peruvianmonk

I've never heard of Thorim, but if what you have posted is true then the obvious reason for it's non use is money...

That is, not enough of the green stuff can be made from an effiecent, non polluting fuel..

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:18 AM
he owes it to the american people and the world to giv a free energy allternative and if he was assasinated he would die with honor and knowing he 's done the world justice
men in the army die for less if he is supposed to be ur president then he needs to act like one and disclose an energy source that isnt fatal if goes wrong

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:20 AM
reply to post by Peruvianmonk

Sadly people needs to understand that while Obama can support clean energy and can talk his hart out of getting off "fossil fuels" for the time been the reality is that is not going to happen

Believe or no American economy and the "mighty dollar" is very tightly link to fossil oil, we produce it and is the natural resource that backs our dollar.

Gold has not been backing the American dollar since the 70s.

So as you can see Fossil Fuels will be the main leader of Americans economy for a long time to come.

Without that we will already be a collapsed nation. . .

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:24 AM
reply to post by CynicalM

It has apparently been considered before as a fuel in the Nuclear cycle rather than Uranium and there have been tests conducted and reactors constructed, but on a small scale.

And there is a lot of this fuel avaliable in actual deposits as well as it being 3 times more abundant in than Uranium in most rocks and soils. India appears to be most up for its developments due to the ban on its Uranium imports and its vasts deposits of Thorium. But as you can see below The U.S. is second only to Austrailia in her known depositis of the element

Estimated world thorium resources1 (Reasonably assured and inferred resources recoverable at up to $80/kg Th) Country Tonnes % of total Australia 489,000
USA 400,000
Turkey 344,000
India 319,000
Venezuela 300,000
Brazil 302,000
Norway 132,000
Egypt 100,000
Russia 75,000
Greenland 54,000
Canada 44,000
South Africa 18,000
Other countries 33,000
World total 2,610,000


[edit on 31-8-2010 by Peruvianmonk]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:31 AM
reply to post by DrumsRfun

Well this would not be getting rid of nuclear energy. Just replacing, in the fuel cycle, the Uranium with Thorium. The nuclear weapons industry would be peeved as Thorium cannot really be used to create weapons, and it it could theoreticallt threaten their future if Thorium became used wholescale.

Although i am sure the U.S. and other nuclear weapons countries would keep their Uranium, Plutonium and bomb making facilities, unfortunatly.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:33 AM
sorry monk missed your thread!!

The authors of this article try and spin this to say that its all down to Obama to fix the power needs of the world. I do not think that is really the point. There is already activity, particularly in Norway to exploit Thorium as a solution to future nuclear power needs.

I am glad I did a search before posting this story to see that Scandinavians started looking at thorium as a viable alternative several years ago.

The most revealing aspect of the article for me is the cessation of exploration into the use of Thorium as nuclear fuel as it did not provide the Plutonium by product of uanium needed for US weapons.

Further more the revelation that Thorium in effect will 'clean' existing nuclear power plants by 'eating' the harmful waste products of our existing nuclear technology.

Even better! The energy/volume ratio of Thorium is staggering - in effect 1/200th of the volume for the same energy output as Uranium.

The final factor in the discovery of Thorium and the technique to exploit the technology is its abundance all over the globe - in particular the USofA. Until now Thorium has been considered a waste product by mining companies seeking the rare metals.

This if allowed to progress could be phenomenally exciting news for the next 100 years of power supply for the globe.


posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:36 AM
reply to post by CynicalM

No in this case it is NOT financial it is the Plutonium requirement for bombs by the US government in the '50's that suppressed/lead to no serious examination of the use of thorium instead of uranium. It is a Norwegian company that now owns the patented technology to use Thorium.

[edit on 31-8-2010 by spacedonk]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:47 AM
reply to post by spacedonk

I know it appears to be the perfect fuel! Especially in its power output, amazing. Typical of the past American establishment not to be interested in Thorium because of its uselessness in their weapons programme.

But this is President Obama's 'Change' 'Yes we can' Administration isn't it?

The development of Thorium as well as continuing in Norway, can be encouraged by Obama, or at least by his energy secretary. In providing grants and tax breaks for companies trying to exploit the mining and development of Thorium reactors instead of to the Uranium boys this could develop very quickly.

Here's some more on the comparitve 'cleanness' of Thorium.

And this is where it gets interesting: thorium has a very different fuel cycle to uranium. The most significant benefit of thorium's journey comes from the fact that it is a lighter element than uranium. While it's fertile, it doesn't produce as many heavy and as many highly radioactive by-products. The absence of U-238 in the process also means that no plutonium is bred in the reactor.

As a result, the waste produced from burning thorium in a reactor is dramatically less radioactive than conventional nuclear waste. Where a uranium-fuelled reactor like many of those operating today might generate a tonne of high-level waste that stays toxic for tens of thousands of years, a reactor fuelled only by thorium will generate a fraction of this amount. And it would stay radioactive for only 500 years - after which it would be as manageable as coal ash.

On how the problem of Thorium being a sub critical element is being overcome.

Thorium also cannot maintain criticality on its own; that is, it can't sustain a nuclear reaction once it has been started. This means the U-233 produced at the end of the thorium fuel cycle doesn't pump out enough neutrons when it splits to keep the reaction self-sustaining: eventually the reaction fizzles out. It's why a reactor using thorium fuel is often called a 'sub-critical' reactor.

The main stumbling block until now has been how to provide thorium fuel with enough neutrons to keep the reaction going, and do so in an efficient and economical way. In recent years two new technologies have been developed to do just this. One company that has already begun developing thorium-fuelled nuclear power is the aptly named Thorium Power, based just outside Washington DC.

The way Thorium Power gets around the sub-criticality of thorium is to create mixed fuels using a combination of enriched uranium, plutonium and thorium. At the centre of the fuel rod is the 'seed' for the reaction, which contains plutonium.

Wrapped around the core is the 'blanket', which is made from a mixture of uranium and thorium. The seed then provides the necessary neutrons to the blanket to kick-start the thorium fuel cycle. Meanwhile, the plutonium and uranium are also undergoing fission.

The primary benefit of Thorium Power's system is that it can be used in existing nuclear plants with slight modification, such as Russian VVER-1000 reactors. Seth Grae, president and chief executive of Thorium Power, and his team are actively working with the Russians to develop a commercial product by the end of this decade. They already have thorium fuel running in the IR-8 research reactor at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow.


[edit on 31-8-2010 by Peruvianmonk]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:54 AM

Originally posted by DrumsRfun
If Obama tried such a bold move of getting rid of nuclear energy for something free and clean,he would be assassinated.
Taking money out of their pockets will get him killed,much like it did for JFK for challenging the Federal Reserve.(my opinion)

Not only nuclear energy, but the coal, oil and gas producers.

Yes, I would bet they could afford some high quality hit men. They might even be able to afford to have him nuked.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:00 AM
I did a presentation on this at university a few years ago, and my lecturer said "this is a very positive spin you have put on nuclear energy!"

And I thought to myself, well you have put a very negative spin on it. My positive spin was reserved for Thorium 232 reactors only. You can apparently also use these reactors to burn off expired nuclear weapons.

What's not to love?

I believe the Norwegians have been interested in this research for the past couple of years, with much public support as well. Considering this is a country that was affected by the fallout from Chernobyl reactor. If their attitudes can be turned around, I believe this just goes to show how potentially world changing this technology is!

To add here is an article about the Norwegian and Swedish Nuclear Energy departments joining together to test their first Thorium reactors.


Thor Energy project;


Got to love that name Thor Energy!

[edit on 31-8-2010 by Big Raging Loner]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:08 AM
reply to post by Big Raging Loner

Ha. What university was that at?

I think your right you don't really need to spin it. Yes you appear to still need to use some elements of Uranium and Plutonium to incite the Thorium but these will be eaten by the Thorium whilst increasing the amount of energy produced.

Is there any real risk of meltdown?

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:11 AM
Although thorium's properties and possible uses and functions apparently are old information, it's exciting they are in the process of designing a proton accelerator that can be used for the desired purpose.

I'm looking forward to the outcome of this.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:12 AM
It's hard enough trying to 'sell' existing nuclear reactors in the free market when they, in the United States, have a lead time of approximately 9 years, approximately half of that is certifying the plant which is expensive in itself, and the other half is building it, an economically risky prospect. With Molten Salt Reactors running on Thorium, it is required to re-develop the entire fuel cycle and overcome a few technical difficulties (materials, mainly), but it must then be certified by a regulatory body that has no experience with such technologies, and finally then they can get around to building the plant. It's not that utilities wouldn't want the technology, it's that it is very difficult to develop - they would rather look for short term gain. Given the public perception of nuclear, it will be difficult to reform the regulations so they're speedier, and it will be difficult to give incentives to for reactor research. It needs to be done, because it is perhaps one of the best energy sources possible, and does actually everything that fusion promises. At least, here's some good news:

Robert Hargraves, the LFTR, and the Blue Ribbon Commission

Robert Hargraves has been a active proponent of nuclear energy. He teaches the Rethinking Nuclear Power class at ILEAD (life-long learning at Dartmouth College), has written the book Aim High about the promise of thorium fuel cycles, and has presented talks on thorium to local meetings of the American Nuclear Society, the Mechanical Engineering Department at Columbia, as well as in many other venues. I can also recommend his Google Talk on thorium reactors.

Bob has also been a steady supporter of Vermont Yankee relicensing. He wrote the popular letter suggesting that Vernon move to New Hampshire. When I posted it on my blog, it received amazing numbers of hits. Bob also did an excellent short slideshow on Vermont Yankee at the local Rotary Club. The slideshow is a fine introduction to Vermont Yankee. Bob and I are members of the Coalition for Energy Solutions, a local group of energy professionals. Most recently, the Coalition wrote a report countering the VPIRG ideas about replacing Vermont Yankee power with a mixture of wind turbines and solar. Bob is also the creator of the prosperity and birthrate chart that clarified so much in my post: It's the Energy. Why I Love Nuclear.

Today, perhaps even as you read this, Bob is testifying before the Blue Ribbon Commission on alternative fuel cycles for nuclear. I find it very heartening that his tireless, fact-based work will be part of the Commission's deliberations.


[edit on 31/8/2010 by C0bzz]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:18 AM
reply to post by C0bzz

Ok so in your opinion it would be difficult to get Thorium reactors off the ground. But do you think the results would be worth it? Edit: I posted this before your edit. I can now see you think it's worth it.

From your avatar and quotes you appear to be a strong supporter of conventional Nuclear power.

Do you work in the industry? Have you heard of any other cleaner/efficient ideas than Uranium, Plutonium reactors, other than Thorium and the Cold Fusion solution?

[edit on 31-8-2010 by Peruvianmonk]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:28 AM
reply to post by Peruvianmonk

I would blame the lecturer, not the University

But you are right about needing some Uranium and Plutonium these are apparently known as seed fuels which compensate for Neutron loss. They basically just help to create a stable chain reaction.

As for a meltdown I'm not too sure, I imagine it would be the same or less of a risk than the average Uranium reactor, certainly not more of a risk anyway!

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:32 AM
I've also posted this on the other thorium threads.

My reading showed that the main reason we don't have thorium power already is that back in the 60's everyone went with uranium for the sole reason that you could use its by-products for nuclear weapons - which everyone wanted, and why iran is enriching it now - while using thorium doesn't help you with that.

Everything else points to thorium as a superior power generating fuel - tiny amounts required, much smaller reactor/plant sizes, no meltdown risk because the reaction just stops (like a car) when you quit feeding it, little waste generation, etc. etc.

Think of it, you could also "give" these power plants away to the third world and immediately increase their standard of living with no weapons proliferation risk.

[edit on 8/31/2010 by centurion1211]

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:37 AM
reply to post by centurion1211

Think of it, you could also "give" these power plants away to the third world and immediately increase their standard of living with no weapons proliferation risk.

As I stated earlier. Exactly. However who would the military, industrial, idelogue types find to be their boogey men then?

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 08:39 AM
I edited my previous post, you probably might want to read it again.

Billions have been provided in loan gurantees to encourage the expansion on the use of Nuclear powere in the U.S. why not funnel some of that to building Thorium based sites?

Nuclear energy in the United States has a poor record at staying on time and on budget. To provide an incentive to new nuclear, the government provides loan guarantees to some projects. Basically, if the company building the nuclear plant cannot pay the loan back for whatever reason (like the project failing), then the government, or should I say, the tax-payer, will pay back the loan. It's not ideal, but it allows lower interest rates which brings down the cost significantly. If the first new nuclear plants are built without any problems, then later power plants will not require loan guarantees. Many of the reasons for the poor financial record for nuclear energy in the United States have now been eliminated, so my opinion is that a "small" number of loan guarantees are a great idea just to get the industry restarted. But again, they are not government hand-outs at this point. I think the government doesn't spend enough on energy related research and development in general and too much on other forms of research. 20 billion dollars on space exploration, but barely anything on energy sources that can solve many of the worlds problems just doesn't make any sense to me.

[edit on 31/8/2010 by C0bzz]

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