The Grand Canyons

Nuclear Talk: Is Thorium a “Greener” Nuclear Option?

Posted In In Vision - By The Grand Canyons on Friday, April 28th, 2017 With No Comments »

Nuclear energy plantThe world’s increasing demand for energy, the limited supply of fossil fuels, and the concern over the impact of carbon emissions have prompted an interest in the increased use of nuclear power. Seen as the answer to the global energy woes, nuclear power can produce vast amounts of electricity without generating carbon emissions.

Despite the potential benefits of nuclear power, the risks, such as weapons development and nuclear meltdown, make people think twice about exploring this option. These risks, however, pertain to a highly specific type of nuclear energy: the nuclear fission of plutonium or uranium isotopes. Now, though, there’s another kind of nuclear energy that’s less risky and easily accessible — nuclear fission using thorium.

The Lowdown on Thorium

The idea to use thorium as a nuclear fuel has been around since the 60s. Weaponization and the Cold War, unfortunately, caused scientists to put the idea on the back burner. The argument was that thorium power didn’t have military potential; it wasn’t immediately useful given the strained relations between the US and the USSR.

The situation today is different, however. Instead of the desire to produce nuclear weapons, a lot of global leaders are anxious about producing nuclear technology. This led to some nations wanting to explore thorium as a power generator.

Is Thorium Safe?

A safer nuclear fuel option may lead to fewer energy workers falling ill with radiation poisoning, which may then lead to fewer energy workers filing for a medical claim detailed in Part B of EEOICPA. Thorium, in this case, is safe as people can’t use it on its own to fuel a nuclear reaction. Scientists must first convert Thorium-232 to Uranium-233 by adding a neutron to the former. If the process is interrupted, the element becomes inert. This is thorium’s built-in safety feature.

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The fact that thorium is available in abundance, along with its safety feature, makes it an appealing alternative to traditional nuclear power. Countries, including China, India, and Russia are now exploring the element with the hopes of using it as a viable energy source one day.