Why Thorium Reactors are the Way to Go

Nuclear power is clearly failing. Power plants just cost too much, and with Westinghouse’s bankruptcy earlier this year, the number 1 producer of nuclear reactors is gone. On top of that, many currently open nuclear power plants are shutting down, including plants near Cleveland, such as Perry Power Plant. However, nuclear power may just have been pulled back from the grave. Why? On August 28, a Dutch firm called NRG (Nuclear Research and Consultancy) has started up the first thorium reactor in 40 years.

 

What’s this? Thorium reactors have proved to generate lots of electricity, but major research was stopped after the closure of a thorium reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory 40 years ago. According to a technological news site called “The Geek”, had this reactor technology been put into commercial use then, Fukushima would never have happened. But how could a reactor not meltdown? After all, a chain reaction cannot be controlled naturally, there has to be some sort of interference. The reactor relies on molten salt to work (not table salt, it’s thorium salt).If something happens, the reaction can be stopped by simply not giving the reactor any more salt. If the salt stops melting, the reaction stops. On the other hand, a traditional reactor can stop the reaction in a mere 5 seconds, but there still is radiation emanating from the reactor; you can’t just waltz off after hitting that “Emergency Stop” button. This radiation is what caused the most damage at Fukushima. The controllers stopped the reaction itself, but the radiation remained as the tsunami made landfall. This isn’t the case with thorium reactors, as they emit much less of this radiation. Another benefit of a thorium-salt reactor is it can take some of our nuclear waste being stored an generate electricity. Plus, waste it produces stays radioactive for 300 years at the max, unlike 900 years+ for traditional reactors. But what does this really mean to you? Well, this means you don’to have to worry about everything you touch being irradiated after some incident at the power plant, and because these reactors are easier to maintain, valuable government money isn’t going into maintaining other traditional nuclear power plants. Although its clear you don’to have to worry about instantly dieing after something goes wrong, thorium nuclear technology is safe from another angle too, not just safety from a meltdown.

 

As many of you know, many countries possess nuclear weapons, which come from weaponized reactor fuels. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, thorium is very expensive and nearly impossible to weaponize. Because of this, switching to thorium reactors can help stop nuclear proliferation (when countries build nuclear weapons), and keep the global community safe.

 

As you just read, RNG’s new plans just may start another nuclear renaissance (this time with no nuclear weapons and meltdowns), and for good this time.

Advertisements

Stanford scholars make a point on nuclear power

As many of you may see, nuclear power is losing trust in the electricity industry. However, 2 Stanford scholars (Jeremy Carl and David Fedor) made a book called Keeping the Lights on at America’s Nuclear Power Plants, which presents you with reasons to support nuclear power, AND dispels many myths about nuclear power. One of those myths is that nuclear power emits carbon dioxide, something only a quarter of Americans know is false. Some of their reasons supporting nuclear power are listed: The cost of building nuclear power plants does not change too much over the years, very few people die from nuclear incidents (which are quite rare), and 10,000 Americans would be spared from death by fumes if we switched to nuclear. I do hope you take the time to read their book, and you can expect more from me in the coming weeks.

Why So Silent?

The nuclear industry is currently a changing field. Lately, I have been failing to show this in my blog. The reason is because I’ve decided to take the summer off. Don’t expect any new posts until late August. I still haven’t given up!

India to Build 10 new Heavy Water Reactors

Just days before the Modi Administration completes its third year in office, the Indian Union Cabinet decided to build 10 new pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) as a part of their goal to increase their nuclear capacity to 14,000 megawatts. It is estimated that this will cost 70,000 crores (1 crore=10,000,000 rupees) and create 33,400 jobs. All this is part of India’s initiative to reduce emissions. Overall, this project is well-founded, and will hopefully succeed.

The New Nuclear Age

Only recently has nuclear power lost some of its association with nuclear weapons. Since almost all nuclear reactors were built during the Cold War, and Russia and the US were so absorbed in nuclear weapons, people tend to associate nuclear power with nuclear weapons. This causes them not to trust nuclear energy. But do they know that nuclear power remains the second most used source of energy in the US, even when the nuclear industry is slowly failing? Plus, nuclear energy has prevented the release of 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 60 years. And outside of the Soviet Union’s Carelessness,  not a single accident in the history of nuclear power has killed anyone, and there have only been 2 significant accidents in nuclear power when the world has 500 operational nuclear power plants. Now that Westinghouse and General Electric are out of the nuclear business, significant figures in society like Bill Gates have made significant investments in the nuclear business. And now, smaller businesses that have absolutely nothing to do with the Cold War are still making investments in nuclear power. So, should we really be ridiculing nuclear power when chances are you get your own electricity from it? Many of the people living near me (and including me) get their power from nuclear power plants, but continue to ridicule nuclear power. But Westinghouse going bankrupt marks a new nuclear age, where nuclear power is totally unrelated to nuclear weapons.

Tunnel Collapse at the Hanford Site

The nuclear waste site known as the Hanford Site is now in a state of emergency following a tunnel collapse on the site. The tunnel contained railcars full of nuclear waste. Thankfully, no radiation was detected and the tunnel was empty of all workers. All workers were evacuated, but some who might have been exposed to radiation were told to stay indoors. On top of this, the airspace above the Hanford Site has been declared a no-fly zone. The site itself used to be a facility for producing nuclear weapons, but now handles nuclear waste. This disaster will definitely be a blow to America’s already failing nuclear industry, but likely will not effect our neighbors (Canada) and other countries worldwide (except Japan).

Also, check out my Wix Site: Yay!

 

South African Government Fails Nuclear Deals

As of now, the Western Cape High Court stated that all the deals and decisions as a part of South Africa’s nuclear effort were unlawful. This is a huge step back in South Africa’s nuclear program. The Minister of Energy stated that she “will speak about the matter in due time.” Not only is this a huge step back, but this is a huge blow to the nuclear industry, and to South Africa itself. Hopefully the former Energy Minister’s words about the nuclear industry will no longer be null and void in the near future.