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Completely safe, abundant, non-carbon-based energy: Thorium (explained in 5 minutes)


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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9M__yYbsZ4]LFTR in 5 Minutes - THORIUM REMIX 2011 - YouTube[/ame]


Here's a great documentary on Thorium, a common, cheap, safe alternative to Uranium. It doesn't create nuclear waste like Uranium does after it's been spent. There's enough of it near the surface of the Earth to power human civilization for the next million years. No more nuclear meltdowns like the one in Fukushima or Chernobyl.

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The LFTR is a very simple, efficient, and elegant type of reactor. It can use any kind of nuclear fuel, bomb material, or nuclear waste product to produce very high temperature heat and at the same time breed more fuel in the bargain. This thrifty approach to nuclear energy greatly appeals to me, but I became even more interested in the LFTR when the details of a new patent were revealed by LeBlanc ends. It opens up the possibility of building a reactor that can run for 30 years without refueling in an unattended mode sited underground while it breeds new fuel within the thorium structure of the reactor itself. In order to get to this U233 that has been produced inside the very walls of the reactor containment vessel, a proliferator must destroy the reactor, chop it up into small pieces while enduring heavy gamma radiation exposure without being detected, then reprocess these reactor pieces using isotopic separation since the U233 is denatured with enough U238 to make chemical separation of bomb grade U233 impossible. Now, this is a tall order for any proliferator and may just be an impossible assignment.


At the end of the service life of the Lftr, the reactor vessel is sent back to the factory where it is reduced to liquid fluoride salts that become the feedstock of a next new Lftr. This feedstock can only be used by the new Lftr and not for bombs. The waste products and held at the factory for a few hundred years to cool down before they are mined for the many precious elements contained within like platinum and iridium. Now that’s what I call a safe, efficient and thrifty mode of operation.

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  • 1 month later...

As we speed past the obvious on our way to oblivious. Why go the nuclear route, when we can go the efficiency route, where the low hanging fruit are mushing up around our ankles? Seems that the wind and sun will be there long after Uranium, Thorium, and the rest, plus there's no need to mine exotic heavy metals that are radioactive, and run all those risks..

The more universal the energy source, the lesser the problems with control issues; the more evenly distributed the resource, the more everyone can enjoy prosperity.

Wind, Sun, and Fun are the way to go in my book!;)

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I love seeing people on the internet discuss things like nuclear energy as if they even remotely understand it. If you were a nuclear scientist you'd be face palming hard all the time. Life would be horrible.


Let's spare a minute or two in respect to nuclear scientists. Past and present.


*plays the last post*

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^ I was thinking about going into it until I took nuclear chem and nuclear physics. Flew RIGHT over my head.


Don't worry man, you can just watch a few youtube videos and read some wikipedia and you'll know enough to tell others about it.



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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgKfS74hVvQ]Aim High: Using Thorium Energy to Address Environmental Prob - YouTube[/ame]


This is pretty cool, he's got a PhD in High Energy Physics, so he's fairly reputable. And he explains it for non-nuclear physics majors.

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And while the hour-long YouTube presentation loads, I'd just like to mention a few things we all need to consider before leaping into more nuclear energy.


1. The energy we waste is on the order of 80 to 90% of the energy we produce, that's energy not being used wisely, or energy which simply is lost in transmission from one form to another. Before all the other sources are considered, I think the #1 energy 'source' should be a move towards greater efficiency. Hunter and Amory Lovins can provide ample examples and statistics showing this, and help advise us all on our energy future, to point it in a sensible direction.

2. When considering nuclear, one has to take into account all of the externalities - this includes risks run from beginning to end for the fuel, and for the other currently inadequately accounted for issues surrounding nuclear power, such as mining impacts, long-term viability, secondary waste issues (embrittled 'hot' vessels, milling wastes, handling equipment) and the risks run at each step of the way to achieve nuclear power. I have yet to watch this video, but I am curious as to see what is said about these matters.

3. Human judgement factors. When a problem is foreseen, is it ignored by corporate bosses who simply want to push forward with a project? Does corporate wealth and influence buying trump reason when it comes to civilian nuclear power? The reason I bring this issue up, is that we can all see the affects of hubris in how nuclear power plants were built without adequate consideration for disasters, with tremendously bad consequences.

4. Concentrated power in the hands of the few. Any technology, which limits to a few the availability of the resource, and profits the few who have proprietary control over that technology, generally hinders progress in terms of democratic governance and the checks against the abuses of power.

5. Compare accurate risk assessments between energy sources. No technology relating to energy is without risk, but when you add up all the risk factors and their consequences, what does the outcome tell us?

6. Thorium, Uranium, Coal, Oil, Gas - these energy resources are all limited. Wind, Solar, Hydroelectric, Geothermal, Tidal Power, Biomass - these energy resources are virtually unlimited. Wouldn't we be better off switching to resources which will be there in the long run, and skip the risks associated with mineral & fossil fuel resourced energy? In transition we have to work with what we've got, but it makes more sense to me to transition over to green, long-term energy sources today, so when the energy crunch really hits, we're already a long ways down the path to sustainable energy use.

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>I'm 11 minutes into his talk, and what Robert Hargraves says would make sense if his assumptions about our ability to foster efficiency in the developed world were so limited, and if we simply correlate energy use vs. prosperity on a graph.

>But I know from my own experiences that applying known technology and materials to a home in this vicinity increased the energy efficiency of that home by 500% over it's previous heating and cooling energy use, and significantly reduced it's electricity use since heating and cooling systems draw a sizable share of the total electric load. Adding skylights and solar panels to the rooftop then makes sense at this point, since the energy demand of the structure has been so reduced that what little demand is left can be provided by locally sourced renewable energy.

> Now if the energy companies didn't manage to buy off the politicans via their political races and future lobbying jobs, and if those elected were accountable to an educated citizenry as they should be, then it would be possible to foster the right investments into energy efficiency and renewable energy, so these basic upgrades can be made en masse.

> So if we were to graph the actual service or good made available to people vs. prosperity, we might then be able to separate prosperity from gross energy consumption, as it ought to be. It's the lighting that allows us to read, the refrigerator that keeps the food cold, and if we correlate these uses separate from gross consumption of energy, we find that a great deal more of good can be made available with much much less energy than we currently consume, which then makes it much easier to provide that energy from renewable resources.


> Better built, better insulated refrigerators vs. more megawatts. Better uses of daylighting, more efficient lights vs. inefficient lights. Insulation, air seals, ventilation, fresh air heat exchangers vs. more fuel or electricity.

> But to incentivise this we need honest government, which is why we need to cap political spending and restore our democracy to be one of, by, and for We the People.

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Better than current reactors, but not as good as solar and wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal and biomass.

If ever that was a problem from, let's say, an earthquake beyond the design level, and since there is a high-temperature molten salt material flowing around in the reactor system (uranium fluoride, plutonium fluoride, thorium fluoride, and others proposed), I would imagine given the solubility of such a material, it may rapidly mix with groundwater or ocean water were the plant sited near one, hence creating a huge contamination problem. The issue of a reactor going critical may be solved, but other issues arise. Hanford site contamination remains a serious problem: Hanford Nuclear Reservation: Black Rock groundwater could affect movement of radioactive contamination under Hanford and keep in mind Japan's recent tragedy - some risks may be unacceptably high, even if the probability of a disaster is low.

These reactors appear to be safer in design than what is currently out there in the civilian nuclear plants, perhaps this would provide us with a path to reduce our arsenal of nuclear weapons and render harmless the nuclear materials by "using up" the enriched isotopes - I can see an application for new and novel approaches to solve the current problems of what to do with all these existing nuclear fuels. But we are already doing this by using uranium and plutonium recycled from warheads, using the fuel pellets in current reactors, and given the enormous stockpile of old warheads, we would be well served by using up this matter. Let's not make any more, let's use up what we have, and move on to greener pastures.

But it would be wise to put it in the hands of a not-for-profit regulated entity that would not further enrich the very few, wouldn't further consolidate the control of electricity, and which would not further entrench the hold of the global plutocrats on power.

Which is why I am a strong advocate of diversified energy from renewable resources - who owns the sun? It's free for all to capture and use it's rays, like the salt in the ocean, or the air we breath, and the water we drink.

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