Global Warming and the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

January 17, 2014

 

 

It's abundantly clear that we need to stop burning coal and oil. What isn't as well known is that the excess CO2 we are producing is rapidly making the ocean more acidic (creating carbonic acid: CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3), which eventually will make it impossible for most creatures in the ocean to make their shells, and will lead to their extinction. Since they are the base of the ocean food chain, 20% of human protein will be permanently lost! The only way to reverse this process (besides eliminating the production of CO2) is to chemically counteract this acidification. That will require enormous amounts of energy far more than solar, wind, etc. can provide. The only possibility is some form of nuclear energy.

 

The uranium-fueled reactors that most of the world uses are inherently dangerous, as exemplified by Chernoble and Fukushima: they are vulnerable to meltdown or explosion. They also produce enormous amounts of radioactive waste ("spent" fuel rods) that cannot be safely transported nor stored. The only advantage of uranium-fueled reactors, if it can be called an "advantage" is that they can produce nuclear weapons. Not much of an "advantage"!

 

But there is another option: the thorium molten salt reactor. They are not susceptible to meltdown or explosion. Moreover, instead of producing radioactive waste, they are able to use radioactive byproducts, reducing all radioactive products to stable isotopes. Thus, they provide a way to dispose of the radioactive waste from uranium-fueled reactors! This type of reactor is already in use in France and China. The U.S. needs to catch up with them, and fast!

 

References:

 

http://www.thoriumenergyalliance.com/

 

On the other hand:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jun/23/thorium-nuclear-uranium

"Don't believe the spin on thorium being a greener nuclear option

Ecologist: It produces less radioactive waste and more power but it remains unproven on a commercial scale"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9M__yYbsZ4

1. CO2 is acidifying the ocean. If it continues, extinctions will start, and 20% of human protein will be permanently lost!

2. To prevent that, stopping the burning of coal & oil is necessary, but not sufficient. Enough power is needed to "engineer" a halt to that acidification.

3. The only possible source of sufficient energy is nuclear energy.

4. The uranium-fueled reactors that we use now are too dangerous and produce too much long-term radioactive waste. The only solutions are the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR -- which was tested at Oak Ridge National Labs, but was dropped in favor of uranium reactors that could also produce nuclear bombs) or cold fusion (see www.brillouin.com, started by Robert Godes). LFTR can consume the waste from the uranium reactors, and produces far less waste, and far shorter half-life (300 years, as opposed to hundreds of thousands of years)). LFTR is also far safer, and cannot explode, even if it loses electric power. China and France and India and Australia are investigating the LFTR. Why aren't we? Good question!!!

5. Thus, SCB needs to get involved in promoting this shift.