Nature’s supply of the element thorium is virtually unlimited. This silvery-white metal is mildly radioactive and wouldn’t do you much harm if you carried a piece around in your glove compartment.
A recent well-done technical paper in Wired estimates that a liquid fluoride thorium (LFT) reactor uses only one ton of raw thorium per gigawatt output. For a uranium-fueled light water reactor, 250 tons of raw uranium are required. The annual fuel cost for a LFT 1-gigawatt reactor is estimated at $10,000 versus $50 million to $60 million for uranium. The proliferation potential for LFT reactor waste is zero, while there is medium risk for a uranium reactor.
So why doesn’t the world use more thorium? Wired informs us that back in the 1960s when the U.S. was toe to toe with the Soviets, the clear fuel choice was uranium-fueled reactors, which produce plutonium, refinable into weapons-grade material. The byproducts of a thorium reactor are useless in the making of nuclear weapons and, consequently, of zero value to radical Islamist terrorists. Isn’t it interesting that we literally read nothing about thorium?
It’s thought that the world’s leader in thorium reserves is India. In the coming decades, India is going to require a massive increase in electrical generating power. And how will India meet its electrical generating needs? One potential way will be with (LFT) reactors.