Nuclear Energy Accidents May Become a Thing of the Past
Source: Forbes, Ken Silverstein (4/18/12)
"Thorium proponents suggest that molten salt reactors that burn such fuels won't meltdown because, unlike today's high-pressured units, they are low pressured."
When it comes to nuclear power, there's talk of all sorts of technologies and fuels—things that could make the average guy's head spin. But if you think nuclear energy is an efficient and pollution-free way to make electricity, consider "thorium" and "molten salt reactors."
Huh? On the periodic tables, thorium rests just two spots away from uranium, which is the prevailing fuel used by today's nuclear reactors. Once uranium is used as a fuel, it becomes highly radioactive. That waste is then cooled in spent fuel pools before is stored in above-ground, concrete-encased steel caskets. As the world learned from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident, that radioactive material could escape and do a lot of potential harm.
Thorium, on the other hand, can also be used to generate nuclear energy. But its proponents are saying that "molten salt reactors" that burn such fuels won't "meltdown" because, unlike today's high-pressured units, they are low-pressured and won't vaporize.
"Thorium is the most abundant nuclear material on earth," says Clinton Bastin, who was with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy from 1955 until 1997. "It should eventually be used in nuclear reactors because it is so plentiful. But it should not be used now because it introduces the problem of highly radioactive material that is very difficult to deal with."
Bastin, who is also a former VP of the World Council of Nuclear Workers, explained to this reporter that there are demonstration projects now occurring involving thorium. Active trials are taking place in China and India, and to some extent in Canada. But no country is using a significant amount of thorium to produce electricity, much less in molten salt reactors. . .View Full Article