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H.R. 1 cuts more than $1 billion from the budget of the Department of Energy through the end of FY2011. While only a portion of DOE's activities support clean energy technology and innovation programs, an analysis by the Breakthrough Institute (where I am employed) estimates that the budget resolution would cut at least 17% from the budgets of the core DOE agencies most-engaged in energy innovation activities.
Thorium as a Secure Nuclear Fuel Alternative
Thorium is a naturally-occurring fertile material – the only other one on earth besides natural uranium. Like uranium, 232-thorium can accept a slow neutron and transmute into a nuclear fuel, which then undergoes nuclear reactions, releasing enormous amounts of energy. The fissile material created is 233-uranium isotope. This thorium fuel cycle carries with it a number of important natural properties some of which contrast sharply with the uranium fuel cycle:
-At no point in the thorium cycle – from mining to waste – can fuel or waste products be used as bomb material in any way;
-The thorium fuel cycle is inherently incapable of causing a meltdown according to the laws of physics; in nuclear reactor parlance, the fuel is said to contain passive safety features;
-Thorium-based fuels do not require conversion or enrichment – two essential phases of the uranium fuel cycle that are exceedingly expensive, and create proliferation risk;
-Thorium fuel cycle waste material consists mostly of 233-uranium, which can be recycled as fuel (with minor actinide content decreased 90-100%, and with plutonium content eliminated entirely);
-Thorium-based fuels are significantly energy efficient;
-Thorium fuel cycle waste material is radiotoxic for tens of years, as opposed to the thousands of years with today’s standard radioactive waste;
-Thorium fuel designs exist today that can be used in all existing nuclear reactors;
-Thorium exists in greater abundance and higher concentrations than uranium making it much less expensive and environmentally-unobtrusive to mine;
These facts have many serious implications for the efficiency and security of energy delivery in the United States, and the world.
Some industry players, such as Toshiba, Hyperion Power Generation, and NuScale Power, think they have a better idea: small, distributed units designed to power the equivalent of a midsize town.
Glibly nicknamed "backyard nukes," these mini power plants don't require a lot of capital, and to hear their proponents explain it, they're safe too.
Hyperion, based in Los Alamos, N.M., is developing a system utilizing technology licensed from the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory that costs from $30 million to $50 million.
Hyperion CEO John "Grizz" Deal says that the entire plant, including the reactor and protective cabinet, will be about the size of a hot tub -- eight feet tall by five feet wide -- and will be available in late 2013.
0:00 /3:52Nuclear still waits for its moment
Neighborhood associations need not fret about tiny Three Mile Islands cropping up in their communities. The units are designed to be buried 15 feet or more underground. When the core needs refueling, the power company simply digs up the system and installs a new one. "It has very few moving parts, which means no operators are needed," money.cnn.com...
Originally posted by RockerDomThis is a very worrying article about how the new budget will sever large part of government-funded clean energy programs....This is a very disheartening step backwards by our government...
Originally posted by grizzle2
Texas is already having regular blackouts due to federally-mandated retiring of power plants.
Obama Shuts Power Plants