Are We Getting Closer to Thorium Nuclear Fuel?
Thorium is an alternative fuel that promises to produce safer, cleaner and more efficient nuclear power...if harnessed correctly.
Thorium, a radioactive metal and alternative fuel, is three to four times more abundant in the earth’s crust than uranium, which is what is currently being used as a main source of nuclear power. When Thorium is bombarded with neutrons it captures them and decays into uranium-233, which can be used to sustain nuclear reactions. Instead of the solid pellets used in reactors today that need to be kept cool with water under high pressure, fuel for a thorium based reactor can be embedded in fluoride salts, which melt at around 400 degrees celsius and double as the reactor coolant. A molten salt cooled reactor with thorium fuel in the salt is called a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, or LFTR for short. LFTRs would use their fuel more efficiently than conventional ones, would produce waste that’s less toxic, and could be designed to shut themselves down safely in case of an accident, preventing a meltdown. So why are we not funding this?