UPDATE (2012/05/02): Added IEER’s Some Characteristics of Uranium and Thorium
UPDATE (2012/04/29): Added the UK NNL report! Thanks DARyan!
There is a rash of misinformation on the net about the supposed merits of the ‘new’ nuclear energy source on the block, thorium. I am sure that in a perfect world where nobody lies, thorium would be the perfect answer to the world’s energy needs as is claimed. This is unfortunately not the case.
Apparently, every time there is a new nuclear catastrophe, the thorium ‘miracle’ is promoted again as the ‘savior’ for the world. The Fukushima nuclear radiation catastrophe was not unique and the thorium misinformation artists have come out in droves. It’s the nuclear industry’s defense mechanism – create a new ‘safety myth’ that regular people can latch onto.
In reality, the thorium nuclear fuel cycle has been under development since the very early days of the nuclear industry. India, for example, has spent decades trying to commercialize it, and has failed. The US, Russia, Germany, and many others tried and failed as well. At best, thorium based nuclear power generation may be commercialized in a few decades.
I doubt it.
Fortunately, there are a number of independent trustworthy and expert sources of information on the internet regarding thorium nuclear. Here they are:
- MIT Energy Initiative: The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
See Appendix A for the overview of thorium. Apparently MIT is far less confident than the overly enthusiastic thorium online promoters.
- UK National Nuclear Laboratory: The Thorium Fuel Cycle
A thorough overview of all things thorium and nuclear prepared by the authority in the United Kingdom. The report concludes that it would take decades to build any thorium fuel cycle based on undeveloped reactor designs such as LFTR. PDF file warning. Many thanks to DARyan for this wonderful document! Please see his comments and his site I’ve introduced below!
- Beyond Nuclear’s Ten Myths About Throrium As A Nuclear Energy Solution
A good brief look at myths that surround thorium. It’s a PDF file.
- PSR/IEER’s Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power
The thorium promoters from the nuclear industry really do prefer you not read this excellent and informational brief PDF.
- IEER’s Some Characteristics of Uranium and Thorium
An easy to understand overview of thorium and uranium characteristics. Both are radioactive, toxic, known carcinogens, and cause birth defects.
- LAKA’s Thorium-based Nuclear Power: An Alternative?
This source includes a good briefing on the Indian thorium nuclear white elephant as well as other in-depth information. PDF.
- FoE’s Thorium and WMD Proliferation Risks
One of the most common myths about thorium is that it cannot be used to make bombs. This is absolutely false and you can learn more about it thanks to FoE Australia.
- SimplyInfo’s Thorium, Not The Nuclear Savior Claimed
This is one of my favorite sources as it concisely outlines the misinformation being propagated. SimplyInfo is a fantastic project that covers many nuclear issues, especially related to Fukushima.
- NIRS’ “New” Nuclear Reactors: Same Old Story
This PDF covers a number of ‘new’ nuclear solutions including thorium. Recommended!
- The Guardian’s Don’t Believe The Spin on Thorium Being a Greener Nuclear Option
This is a fabulous article that originally appeared in The Ecologist. Succint.
- The Hindu’s Why Kudankulam Is Untenable
This editorial piece includes a very good overview of India’s secretive failure to develop the thorium fuel cycle.
Last, but hardly least, I highly recommend anyone interested in nuclear energy to read DARyan‘s fabulous “A critical analysis of future nuclear reactors designs” which is an epic overview of the many different nuclear solutions the industry is trying to sell to society. Part 8 covers thorium, molten salt reactors (MSR), and LFTR technologies. Fanatical thorium ‘evangelists’ have taken special aim at the DARyan publications as evidenced by the various abusive comments on the blog. This critical analysis has also appeared in Green Blog.
As expert Jo Abbess states more clearly than anyone, thorium is “quite probably the most well-funded piece of astroturfing propaganda in existence.” Only through awareness and education can we hope to make rational decisions about our energy future. I recommend readers start learning about thorium nuclear from the articles above before making any decisions on the technology.
If anyone has any other good recommendations, I will add them to the list. Looking forward to your feedback :-P