NOV 13, 2019 6:00 AM PST

Will Thorium Reactors Have a Future in Clean Energy?

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

In its pure form, thorium is a silver-black colored metal. Named after Thor, the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, it is the 90th element on the periodic table. 

For those who consider nuclear energy as a strategy to combat climate change, thorium-based nuclear technology is likely an effective weapon that can deliver immediate results.

In the proof-of-concept experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s, scientists successfully built and operated the first-ever nuclear reactor that runs on the thorium fuel cycle. 

Compared to uranium, using thorium for reactor fuel have many advantages: it emits weaker radiation and is safer to handle; its presence is more abundant than uranium; it can start and sustain chain reactions more efficiently; when incorporated into molten salt reactors, thorium fuel has zero chance of core meltdown.

That's not to say thorium reactors are perfect. But as more privately and publicly-funded R&Ds are being devoted to the technology, maybe we will soon see a future where thorium reactors quench our thirst for carbon-free energy.

Source: PBS Space Time via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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