A comment piece entitled “Thorium fuel has risks” by Dr Stephen Ashley and colleagues in the 6 December 2012 volume of Nature raises concerns about the proliferation resistance of thorium in some operational contexts.
In London the Science Museum’s Antenna gallery focuses on contemporary issues in science and technology. Until January 2013 it features an exhibition named Can we get electricity from nuclear waste? based upon ThorEA’s work on thorium fuelled Accelerator Driven Subcritical Reactors and their potential for transmuting nuclear waste. There are interviews with Bob Cywinski, Jim Al-Khalili and Sir Patrick Stewart.
2012 sees the turn of Shanghai to host the IThEO Conference, http://www.itheo.org/thorium-energy-conference-2012, which is entirely appropriate, because China is taking the lead in exploring fresh approaches to nuclear fission in its quest for sustainable, environment-responsible energy that can be delivered reliably and in quantity.
The Chinese initiated action to find viable energy sources significant enough to wean the country off its dependence on carbon-based energy. The large amounts of Thorium being produced as a by-product of its rare earth mining operations, is a further incentive. ThEC12 is being partnered by the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) – a senior academic institution of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), which has been given specific responsibility for the Thorium Energy utilization programme in China.
The initative in China makes us believe that the Thorium Energy implementation door against which we’ve been pushing, may finally be starting to open.
On ‘Costing the Earth’, Julian Rush considers the potential of the thorium cycle to meet the long-term energy needs of the world.
AREVA, the global nuclear power industry leader and a major player in the renewable energy sector, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Dalton Nuclear Institute.
Sir David King tells the Guardian today that the UK cannot meet its carbon reduction targets without using the UK stockpile of plutonium. In a report published today, Sir David favours the use of mixed-oxide fuel, but notes the potential to use plutonium to seed thorium-cycle reactors of the future.
Baroness Bryony Worthington writes today in the Guardian about the need to develop thorium-fuelled reactor technology as a sustainable energy resource for future generations. In particular, she advocates molten-salt technology as being potentially a safer alternative reactor technology to present-day light water reactors. Whilst this technology has been demonstrated in test reactors during the 1960s, little work has been done since then compared to the huge investment made in pressurised water and boiling water reactors. PWRs and BWRs make up the bulk of today’s reactor fleet, with the exception of the United Kingdom where gas-cooled reactors make up most of the present fleet. China is developing a pilot molten-salt plant at Shanghai, but some hurdles must be overcome on the way to demonstrating a molten salt plant with today’s materials and safety standards.