Would it be wise to push for a Thorium based nuclear energy instead of the traditional Uranium one we have today?

I recently read a little bit about Thorium fueled energy as a much better alternative to Uranium, and was wondering if we Greens should be advocating it?



  1. 0 Votes

    Thorium based nuclear energy offers a theoretically attractive alternative to traditional Uranium based energy, especially from a green perspective. Mainly, since Thorium is a much more abundant element on Earth and is largely concentrated in spatially thinner elements of the Earth’s crust, the mining technology needed to mass-mine Thorium would be much more energy efficient and much less destructive to surrounding environments. Also, Thorium based fuel cycles result in far less nuclear waste, and that which does occur as a natural byproduct is significantly less dangerous than most wastes produced from Uranium fuel cycles (owing to the less reactionary chemical nature of Thorium).

    However, while all of this sounds great on paper, there’s not a great deal of pragmatic research or evidence to support it. Thorium has been relatively underresearched in most nuclear states (India is by far the biggest supporter and developer of Thorium-based fuels, and they have admittedly seen good results from it), and as such there is no wide body of evidence to conclude that the effects of mass-producing Thorium fuel would be any greener than Uranium in the long run. Its lack of attention also means that there are more technological problems in testing and developing Thorium (e.g. problems in processing Thorium as a solid fuel).

    Overall, I wouldn’t think of advocating Thorium nucelar energy point-blank. I do however agree that green-minded people should push for research and development into Thorium as a likely fuel alternative. If Greens can make funding for scientific research a visible issue, I have no doubt that Thorium based technology will emerge as a key contender for major alternative energy world-wide.

  2. 0 Votes

    Thorium could be a wiser choice than uranium. Firstly, thorium is far more abundant than uranium, and we have not found a use for it. Thorium deposits might even be safer to mine than uranium. While uranium produces plutonium, which can be used for weapons, thorium does not. An isotope of uranium is produced by thorium that could possibly be used for weapons, but this isotope would have to be successfully separated, and most thorium reactors make it impossible to do so.

    Using thorium also produces less waste than uranium, and in that waste there are fewer “long-lived trasuranic elements” (read: less bad stuff). Thorium is quite possibly a much better element to use in nuclear reactors.

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