Annual emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases must drop 40-70 percent by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise below 2º C. That is one of the conclusions from UN IPCC report from the April 2014 meeting.
To meet that drop in carbon dioxide emission, all kind of energy technologies must be used as quickly as possibly. Wind, solar cells, geothermic, bio-fuels etc. must be used. But even then, we have an issue with getting enough power when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. Fore many years scientist have been making research on how to store energy, unfortunately today we cant even make a car go much more then 100km on a battery that has a price of app. 20.000€. In western countries like Denmark we pay much more for the power in order to pay for the intensive investment in wind-turbines. Isn't there an alternative?
The answer is yes, there is. Unfortunately it hasn't been used for several decades due to bad choices of technology elsewhere. The answer is Thorium. What is thorium?
Thorium is a metal that 10ppm of the earth crust consist of. It is responsible for keeping the earth worm (molten in the center), and is very low radioactive. Thorium is different from uranium and plutonium. First, Thorium do not have to be enriched before use. During the enrichment process 99,4% of the uranium is discarded as depleted uranium, that can not be used for fuel, but the last 0,6% is uranium 235 which can be used in nuclear power plants or for a nuclear bomb. What a waste and what a dangers substance, should it fall into hands of bad people! Thorium instead can not be made into a bomb, it is not fissile but instead fertile. Fertile means that it can be made into a substance that is fissile, Thorium is turned into uranium 233. That there is no uranium 238 in the fuel mix simply means that there is no production of actinides such as plutonium 239. That is good because plutonium 239 also is bomb material, very toxic and has a decay half life of 25000years. The actinides is what is causing the worry in long time storage of nuclear fuel today. If it is just the fission products we are left with, a storage time of 300 – 600years is sufficient for the radioactivity to drop so much that it isn't more radioactive then uranium ore, with is naturally available in the ground.
An upside to using thorium is that it is even possible to burn nuclear waste so plutonium can be destroyed with out any new plutonium is made.
Thorium reactors can be constructed in a way that a passive safety system will prevent a meltdown like in Fukushima, Japan.
So to summarize:
Germany have had a 300MW pebble bed Thorium reactors, which they shout down because public worry after Chernobyl. Instead Germany is now in a catch-22. They relay on Russias gas thereby contributing heavily to global warming and at the same time under considerable political pressure from Russia, on the other hand Germany can choose to burn more coal, that energy technology that has the highest carbon dioxide emission. All because it has been decided to phase out nuclear and no investments has been made in development of nuclear power such as thorium fuel.
In the sixties in Oak Ridge National Laboratories there where a molten salt reactor experiment. The molten salt reactor ran on a salt which provided much better heat transfer (energy usage) than today’s water reactors. It was also passively safe because no cooling water was needed so it could not melt down. Last it had a negative temperature coefficient, which means that the hotter the reactor was the slower it was running. It Chernobyl and Fukushima had these property these accident would never had happened. Finally it would not make any plutonium, and could even burn plutonium. Because of political reasons it never was develop to a complete power plant, and because of commercial interests by the nuclear industry today it hasn’t been develop later. Below pictures show the molten salt reactor experiment (left) and on the right is the harmless molten salt solution Fluoride, Lithium, Beryllium( FLiBe).
In 45 years this technology has not been developed, and therefor we can make a giant leap to finish it. Compared to the investment that is made in other kind of energy sources we believe that Thorium should be given a chance to be develop so we doesn't end up with at planet that is in war because of the damages global warming has contributed with.
Please feel free to contact thoriumpower.eu for further information, ideas or other issues regarding Thorium power.