For any students researching or interested in sustainable energy, read further:
It doesn't run the risk of meltdown, creates much less harmful waste, and operates on an abundant resource. Thorium nuclear reactors were researched for decades right here in Canada and briefly operated in the US, but during the cold war era, plutonium-uranium based reactors came to be the chief choice as the byproducts of these plants allowed for nuclear weapons development. Thorium does not create a weapons grade byproduct, and so it quietly has been shelved awaiting a new awakening. Enter China:
The Advantages of Thorium Fueled Reactors
- Reactors, using generation IV molten salt designs, have a greatly
reduced risk of an escape of highly radioactive materials as a result of
an explosion, meltdown or fire following an earthquake, tsunami or
system failure. There is nothing to burn or melt down.
Less Radioactive Waste
- They produce a small fraction of the radioactive wastes associated
with the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle and they do not have to be stored
for tens of thousands of years.
– They don’t use raw materials like uranium, which are scarce and
expensive, neither do they need massively strong containment structures.
Less Need for Potentially Dangerous Fuel
- They only require fissile materials, (with a potential to make
nuclear weapons), to start them up. Afterwards they are self-sustaining.
Less Risk of Proliferation - They don’t generate fissile materials and therefore the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons is much reduced.