Debate topic for pragmatic GREENs
Thanks to a tweet by Enviralment I just read an article on Thorium reactor technology that I think people should read. Thorium reactors have been around for quite some time but because of their inability to be weaponized they never received the same funding or hype that conventional (uranium) reactor technology received. I've looked at thorium technology a number of times not only as because I love tech stuff but also as GREEN compromise position to the outright moratorium on nuclear plants.
Thorium has a number of major advantages or Uranium reactors
1. Fuel is 10 times more abundant and readily available in the waste streams of existing metal mines. This will ensure a good supply without additional mining of any kind especially Uranium mining. Thorium technology will also keep fuel prices low compared to what will happen if a major build out of new Uranium reactors is begun. Ur prices have been suppressed for decades because of the availability of reprocessed Russian warheads taken out of service in arms control deals, this supply stream is ending and Ur prices will skyrocket in the next decade if major new projects come on line.
2. Thorium reactors are self regulating and don't need expensive and dangerous high pressure systems, lower costs and lower risk.
3. Thorium waste is only hot for a couple hundred years and contains fewer exotic and toxic materials. While still a major storage problem this fact greatly improves the long term logistics of nuclear waste.
4. Thorium reactors can be built without worries of weapon development, You can't make a bomb from it so places like Iran can build them without threatening their neighbours.
5. Thorium reactors can be used to downgrade the toxicity of other nuclear wastes containing plutonium while using them as part of the fuel mix. This reduces dangerous waste and weapons grade fuel, win/win.
So, if an increase in nuclear reactors is inevitable as many people including some environmentalists now believe would it not make sense to throw our support behind a more earth friendly nuclear alternative (thorium) rather than stubbornly demand no nukes at all?
In a energy deficient future were we may lose the all or nothing argument against Uranium reactors, is thorium both viable and comparably safe enough that greens should consider this technology a compromise position to a nuclear moratorium?
I'm realistic/pessimistic enough to believe we may well lose the nuclear argument in a energy starved future, I'm also pragmatic enough to think we should at least debate a lesser of evils compromise where both sides can claim a victory?
I'm torn but would still like to see it debated by real environmental and nuclear experts
What do you think?
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