January 07, 2009


Liquid fluoride thorium reactors are on my mind lately. There's an excellent video here of recent presentation on the idea by Dr. Joe Bonometti, and I've added a link to the Energy from Thorium blog to the sidebar. If you're at all interested, I highly recommend heading over and reading through the stickied posts on how the technology might work.

Capsule summary so far:

  • Thorium reactors rely on fission, which is well-understood and absolutely, for-sure works. LFTRs are a middling engineering challenge, not new science.
  • We have a LOT of thorium in the US, and on the planet. Enough to power current energy consumption rates for millenia. When that runs out (or when we leave), we can mine it from the Moon, and anywhere we find it in space, because it has a distinct radiation signature.
  • LFTRs are anticipated to be what nukees call "proliferation resistant", meaning it'd be damn hard to make a weapon with this sort of reactor.
  • LFTRs could -- we believe -- be made small enough to fit on a normal flatbed truck, and still power a small town.
  • No one has built a real LFTR yet, and no one can until DoE gives a go-ahead to someone with the money and ability to build it.
  • Getting approval from DoE is worse than getting a new drug approved, and much more costly.
I'm actually more enthused about this than I am IEC fusion at this point. Looks much more like a sure thing.

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