A Nuclear Energy Option That Gets Overlooked

Renewable energy is currently the biggest thing in energy production. With our energy needs growing every year, we will need to look at more options than just solar and wind. An option that is controversial but can produce high levels of power is nuclear. Today’s nuclear plants are far more advanced than the plants of the 1980s, however, many people still remember the incidents at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and most recently Fukushima.

A Thorium plant would be a different type of nuclear plant than what people are familiar with.

What is Thorium? According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA):

“Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Soil contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium. Thorium is very insoluble, which is why it is plentiful in sands but not in seawater, in contrast to uranium…”

Aside from being plentiful at least 3 times more availability than uranium, thorium has some distinct advantages. Thorium reactors can produce efficiency levels as high as 98%. Current nuclear technologies can achieve an efficiency rate of about 5% with its fuel. When it comes to safety, thorium reactors can self-regulate their temperature levels. Should the reactor overheat for some reason, then the reaction that is generated begins to slow down on its own. Compared to traditional nuclear reactors, thorium reactors would eliminate the need for large scale storage of spent fuel.

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