What Is Thorium?
Thorium is a natural occurring element found on earth, the moon, mars... essentially everywhere. It is a slightly radioactive metal and is easily three times more abundant on Earth than uranium. Because of its fertility, it can be used as fuel in a nuclear power plant.
Why is thorium important if we already have uranium-fueled nuclear power plants? A thorium-fueled nuclear reactor generates hundreds of times the power of a uranium or coal power plant but produces essentially no waste. A thorium power plant would produce much less than 1% of the waste that a uranium plant of equal magnitude produces and, of course, would produce no carbon dioxide. More importantly, while the waste of a uranium power plant is toxic for over 10,000 years, the little waste that is produced in a thorium plant is benign in under 200 years. Even more impressive, the thorium power plant can be used to burn our current stockpile of nuclear waste. And yet, the benefits continue. The thorium power plant cannot "melt down", thorium cannot practically be used to make nuclear weapons, there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level for over 10,000 years, and the thorium power plant can be designed to be a plug and play module that could tap right in at the source of a current coal or uranium plant so there would be no need for laying a new grid.
Now, although it sounds like science fiction, the potential of thorium power has already been witnessed. Studies and experiments were conducted from the 1950's until the 70's. Almost 20,000 hours of operation and the true value of thorium was proven as a superlative energy source in the molten-salt reactor experiment (MSRE) between 1964-1975. With all that said, we hear the same question from everyone who hears about thorium for the first time. "It almost sounds too good to be true, why isn't it already in use today?" Surf on if you are one of these people. You'll find that there isn't a good reason.
Click here for more information about Thorium on the World Nuclear Association website.
Danger of existing thorium regulation to U.S. manufacturing and energy sector
Take a tour through the proposed research reactor
Katie is a very energetic 7th grade student who first became interested in the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor design for a Science Fair project. She then decided to continue and expand a bit by making some videos on the subject. You may get the chance to meet her at the conference. See her videos here.
Thorium MSR Text Book & Museum Exhibits
Help Ondrej Chvála, Magdi Ragheb, Joe Bonometti, and the TEA create Thorium Textbooks and Museum Exhibits to teach the future Nuclear Engineers about MSR. Any amount will be greatly appreciated.