Image courtesy of Cosmos Magazine & Justin Randall
Some relevant highlights of the technology:
- The reaction is 'driven' by a nuclear accelerator (called an Accelerator Driven Sub-critical (ADS) system, and therefore can not maintain a self-sustained nuclear reaction [improved safety].
- ADS technology can be used to 'burn' waste products from existing nuclear reactors. Relevant studies were completed for example as part of the US Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative [waste management and proliferation avoidance].
- The technology produces significantly less high level waste.(see 'New age nuclear', Cosmos, issue 8) [waste minimisation and management].
- Byproducts of the Thorium reaction do not include materials that pose increased weapons proliferation risks (Plutonium and Uranium) [non-proliferation].
- Thorium is significantly more abundant than Uranium and does not require high-tech enrichment technologies [sustainability, energy security and non-proliferation]. [Enrichment being the central issue responsible for the dramas in Iran at the moment, for example.]
The article also discusses an amazing flop in Norwegian public opinion in less than a year, with 80% now favouring Thorium nuclear technology development. [All emphasis is mine]
"It would be a sin of omission not to consider it," said Bård Mikkelsen, CEO of Statkraft, in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.
"Norway has taken the lead on this. We are an energy nation; we have large supplies of thorium – not as much as Australia of course – but we have a very advanced energy industry, and we have a responsibility to the world," said Lillestøl [a nuclear physicist at the University of Bergen, Norway]. "Without nuclear energy we will destroy the world, we will spend all the coal, oil and gas, and we will be left with an energy desert."
As with other things nuclear, there are industrial opportunities and interest within Australia. But one quoted Sydney nuclear scientist expressed his doubts about Australian political will and research resource commitment, claiming Australia is 'lagging behind' while European Union, India, the US, Japan and Russia all work to develop thorium energy technologies.
For further information, including identified reserves per country, see Also: