Super Fuel: Thorium-Green Energy Source For The Future by Richard Martin discusses thorium as a viable alternative to uranium. The author provides a significant rationale for embracing thorium. This rationale includes the fact that it is in abundance. No special refining is needed. Thorium is not good for making weapons. Thorium reactors consume more latent energy trapped in fuel, thereby reducing nuclear waste. Despite the advantages of thorium nuclear power reactor applications, cheap natural gas could freeze out any major development of thorium based nuclear power plants in the near term.
Thorium is cleaner, safer, and more abundant in nature according to the author. In fact, thorium is four times as abundant as uranium. The book documents that the U.S. has 440T tons of thorium reserves, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency. The cost effectiveness and safety of thorium are important attributes in comparison to the current stock of fission plants which present dangers to the public in the event of random natural disasters. The author does a good job of describing thorium as a good alternative to fission reactors.
The core of a thorium reactor is liquid. It operates at atmospheric pressure meaning that pressurized vessels used in conventional reactors are unnecessary. In addition, the core has a longer life. Thorium is simply a better source of nuclear power than uranium according to the author.
The decay rate of thorium is very slow. Super Fuel explains that thorium is fertile, meaning that it can be converted into a fissile isotope, of uranium. In addition, nuclear waste is less of a hazard for future generations. Thorium could provide a clean and effectively limitless source of power. Climate neutral power generation is on the rise. In the future, natural gas and thorium based nuclear power could provide a baseline energy.
As Martin notes, thorium is in great abundance in the crust of the earth. It is more resistant than uranium and is impervious to slow neutrons. India plans to add reactors powered by thorium by mid-century. Under BARC, India will embark on an ambitious thorium based nuclear power program. The Indian nuclear power program is explained at length in the book. This action makes sense for India because its population is growing in number and people are more densely concentrated. The risks of a fission nuclear power disaster to life and property are much greater.
Super Fuel is an excellent reference which explains the synergism of thorium as a viable alternative to uranium in nuclear power plant designs. In the near term, low natural gas prices could keep thorium based nuclear power plants from becoming a major player in the energy market in the United States. The author
should explain that cost is not the only factor. The safety of thorium based
nuclear reactors trumps cost as an issue. Fission based plants are simply a significant danger to the public in the event of natural disasters like the power plant issues experienced after the recent tsunami in Japan. Chernobyl is
yet another example of the problems inherent in fission nuclear power plants.