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Vivek Raj

Student - Electronics,

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Given the current craze and investment in light water reactors, do you think the world will ever change to thorium fuel ?

Thorium is considered as the best fuel for a CLEAN nuclear energy unlike Uranium which is rare and causes disposal problems.
And all that high pressure inside the water reactors is dangerous.
But the story in case of thorium is very different and safe.
But there are no major investments and break thorough in Thorium technology which is CLEAN.
So WILL THIS THORIUM DREAM EVER COME TRUE ?

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    Jan 15 2014: Ok so coming back to my original question on Thorium.
    If we actually develop a reactor that's more efficient and produces no waste .
    And educate the masses about the advantages.
    Do you think Environmental organizations like GREEN PEACE will support the use of Thorium against Uranium ?
    • Jan 16 2014: Hell if I know.
      It certainly won't hurt nuclear's image to switch to Thorium, but how much it will actually improve I'm not sure.

      It'll make peaceful nuclear programs a much less effective cover for trying to produce the weapons grade stuff (thorium is no good for nukes as far as I'm aware), but my guess is that the problem of nuclear's public perception will only be mitigated, not solved.
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        Jan 16 2014: Well i guess ,
        if the world continues at the current rate of progress in Thorium reactor, we would have it only at a time when Fusion becomes a reality :)
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      Jan 15 2014: Nuclear has great risks tied to it, that's why.

      Even though it almost never happens, when it does blow the costs are enormous!
      • Jan 16 2014: While the financial cost of a meltdown may be significant (partly due to overreaction on the parts of both politicians and the general public), it should be noted that in terms of actual people killed, nuclear accidents are responsible for a mere several dozen fatalities (mostly in Chernobyl) throughout nuclear's entire lifetime.
        Annually, more people die on average making solar panels (its apparently a pretty toxic process).

        Besides, oil rigs occasionally fail and can cause as much harm as a meltdown, and coal mines have been known to collapse and kill everyone inside. Coal plants release more radiation then nuclear ones, actually, mostly because of traces of radioactive elements in the coal, and nuclear comes with zero air pollution.
        Yet nuclear is the one with the reputation for being dangerously unstable. Probably because no one ever made bombs out of coal--black lung isn't dramatic enough to catch the public imagination.
    • Jan 15 2014: Public relations, and ignorance among politicians as well as their voting public.

      Nuclear is a politically problematic because people associate it with bombs. Anyone looking to save money simply uses coal or gas (both currently cheaper then nuclear), and anyone looking to get off fossil fuels is usually looking to score points with the green crowd, which is traditionally anti-nuclear.

      Which is why even today coal plants are the fastest growing sector in the energy economy. The green movement is pretty much shooting itself in the foot in that sense.
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        Jan 16 2014: thank's for that.
        so coming back to my original question on Thorium.
        If we actually develop a reactor that's more efficient and produces no waste .
        And educate the masses about the advantages.
        Do you think Environmental organizations like GREEN PEACE will support the use of Thorium against Uranium ?
  • Jan 13 2014: Nuclear's bigger problems are public perception and the association with bombs, which means half the world can't associate with it due to politics, and the other half simply doesn't want to.

    This makes funding for both research and practical application difficult. A shame really, as renewable technology is largely impractical, which mostly leaves us with mountains of coal that could have been avoided.
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    Jan 13 2014: Yes, I believe Thorium reactors will have an important place in tomorrow's energy policy.

    Although, I think that the ultimate answer will be orbital solar power collectors that bean power down to Earth by laser of microwave beams.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power
    • Jan 13 2014: When we have a space elevator up and running, maybe.

      Currently, launching something into orbit is more expensive then its weight in gold. Forget competition with cheap coal or gas, using today's technology, the power satellites have a hard time competing with hamster wheel farms.
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        Jan 13 2014: The space elevator is about 50 years away, but we can also mine asteroids and the moon for the building materials we need, instead of launching them from the ground.
        • Jan 15 2014: Also purely in the realm of fantasy at the moment, I'm afraid.

          Perhaps given time, space mining will become a reality. I rather have my doubts concerning power generating satellites though.
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      Jan 15 2014: Dude seriously , The capital needed for orbital solar power would be much greater than Nuclear.
      We could instead build two or three small Nuke plants producing more energy at the same cost as of the orbital solar power.
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        Jan 16 2014: "The capital needed for orbital solar power would be much greater than Nuclear."

        Toady it is, but it won't always remain so. And as I said, I think Thorium will still have play an important part, just not the leading part, in tomorrow's power production.