Thursday, 10 December 2015

More on thorium

Lars Jorgensen gives a presentation on how thorium technology company ThorCon sees the future of nuclear power and its inevitable battle with coal. How anyone came up with the name ThorCon I can't imagine but the video explains what their project is all about. While remembering that the presentation is a sales pitch, here are a few bullet points.

The ThorCon system is a modular off the shelf system which can be built by existing shipyards using automated ship-building technology.

The system uses thorium and uranium and is designed to be  “walk-away safe”. If it goes wrong the liquid fuel falls harmlessly into a containment vessel. Nobody needs to shut it down, the laws of physics take care of things.

The system is designed to be cheaper than coal.

Indonesia is already interested, but as ever we'll have to wait and see if ThorCon sinks or swims. There is no way we can usefully guess what new technologies will emerge over the next few decades but thorium seems promising. When will the world run out of thorium? These things are as much guesswork as anything, but 1000 years may be conservative.

Meanwhile here in high tech Britain we build windmills and convert power stations to burn wood. Presumably dried dung is our next big energy idea.


James Higham said...

May just be the way to go with those reserves.

Sam Vega said...

"Presumably dried dung is our next big energy idea."

Bulls are very productive in this area. We've got enough to last for hundreds of years.

A K Haart said...

James - it is certainly worth some serious investment.

Sam - they are, and to celebrate the fact we could promote the idea of juicy steaks cooked on dung-fired barbecues.

Demetrius said...

A while back I read something that said the reason why Thorium was not used for reactor power long ago was because the Uranium use created the material for nuclear bombs and weaponry.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

In any rational world schemes such as this would be the future, and would eliminate CO2 emissions as well - if you think that's important.

But of course we don't live in a rational world, so it will no doubt be regulated out of existence and we will continue to cover the countryside with windmills.

Derek said...

Thorium seems to be a good alternative from the fuel standpoint, but as Demetrius states, its by-product is not weaponisable. Another plus is that thorium is widely found on the planet, and more easily and safely processed. Can't have that can we. But we can turn the UK into a giant hedgehog full of whirling spikes - and still be short of energy when most needed. That's quite OK.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - that seems to be the most likely explanation. Thorium/uranium is not suited to generating transuranium elements such as plutonium.

WY - I agree and centuries of technical progress seem to be highlighting just how irrational we are.

Derek - It does seem to be a good alternative and has been for almost fifty years. I think many people are afraid of nuclear.