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Monday, August 30, 2010

One tonne of Thorium produces as much energy as 3.5M tonnes of coal

If you've read about Thorium or perhaps watched the presentations on Google Tech Talks you will be aware of the amazing potential of this dormant technology from the 50s.

As little as One tonne of Thorium produces as much energy as 3.5 Million tonnes of coal or 200 tonnes of uranium with closer to 100% fuel use compared to 0.7% with uranium. At a cost of only $100k, one tonne of Thorium can provide 1 GW-year of electric energy, enough to power a city of 1 Million for a year.

The UK based Telegraph has published a call to action on Thorium R&D. Norwegian group Aker Solutions is working on the thorium fuel-cycle at its UK operation. Aker are looking for tie-ups with the US, Russia, or China to assist their efforts.

The only other country active in Thorium research is India who have their own projects - none yet built - dating from days when they switched to thorium because their weapons program prompted a uranium ban.

As with all other shifts in the status-quo, it seems the incumbents have the upper hand in closing down any new competition. With nuclear power, governments play an disproportionate large role due to Nuclear Safety Regulations that place a huge licensing and certification burden on any new installation. As a result, despite the usual media driven xenophobia surrounding anything Nuclear, for Thorium to gain traction political will is essential.

With so much new investment in developing renewable energy sources it would seem logical that Thorium should get a second look.


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