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Congress Introduces Legislation to Tap Thorium as a New Source of Power for the Country

Kirk Sorensen has the story:
The following legislation has been introduced in the US Senate today by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Harry Reid:

A BILL
To amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to provide for thorium fuel cycle nuclear power generation.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the "Thorium Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008".

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that—
(1) the United States and foreign countries will require massive and increasing quantities of energy during the 20-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act to support economic growth;

(2) nuclear power provides energy without generating unacceptable quantities of greenhouse gasses;

(3) the generation of nuclear power in the United States and many foreign countries has been discouraged by concerns regarding—(A) the proliferation of weapons-useable material; and (B) the proper disposal of spent nuclear fuel;

(4) nuclear power plants operating on an advanced thorium fuel cycle to generate nuclear energy—(A) could potentially produce fewer weapons-useable materials than uranium-fueled plants; and (B) would produce less long-term waste as compared to other nuclear power plants;

(5)(A) thorium is more abundant than uranium; and (B) the United States possesses significant domestic quantities of thorium to ensure energy independence;

(6)(A) thorium fuel cycle technology was originally developed in the United States; and (B) cutting-edge research relating to thorium fuel cycle technology continues to be carried out by entities in the United States; and

(7) it is in the national security and foreign policy interest of the United States that foreign countries seeking to establish or expand generation and use of nuclear power should be provided—(A) access to advanced thorium fuel cycle technology; and (B) incentives to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Be sure to check out the discussion at Kirk's forum as well.

Picture of the element Thorium on the periodic table.

Comments

Anonymous said…
This is very good news
Anonymous said…
Thorium is the cleanest possible fission fuel. It is gratifying to see a forward looking bill like this.
Anonymous said…
Thorium is a relatively short lived but abundant radioactive element that cannot sustain criticality on its own. It needsan external electron source, which means that, when that source fails, the thorium cycle stops. it is therefore far safer than Uranium or Plutonium. It has the ability to be seeded with U or Pu, and to degrade them as its own nuclear reaction proceeds. it therefore has uses in destroying weapons-grade radioactive elements. but it has serious problems when it comes to pulling the rods or pebbles, or whatever is used. Russia, India and Australia are activelt working on civilian thorium cycles -- and so should we. this is a very sensible bill.. David
Anonymous said…
A US company, Thorium Power Ltd. is currently bringing its Thorium based fuel design to market, this bill will be necessary for its utilization in US nuclear plants as well as the development of other designs. The Thorium power design was developed by nuclear pioneer Alvin Radkowsky, and is based on a successful design that was tested for 6 years in the Shippingport nuclear reactor in the 1970's. India is chomping at the bit to get this technology in order to utilize their abundant Th resources. It appear that the UAE will also adopt this technology and Thorium Power actually co-authored their governmental white paper on Nuclear power implementation.
Anonymous said…
Ah! At last a breath of fresh air, it's been a heck of a long time!!! It's been a bit of a hell in this neck of the woods with kids dying not knowing what really they are dying for ?("Illama Yuddhe" Singhalese, How did these high density materials escape gravitational sorting ? http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/gallery/animations/world_gravity/ )
For Once lets work together to clean up our act rather than being spoilt children looking for more... and more... and more... while our children and ultimately our own genes perish in either photochemical smog and acid rain or by the stored weapons grade plutonium and unused commercially and strategically "kicked under the carpet" thorium stocks slowly leach out to poison earth's fragile biosphere. That way if we, in this democratic world, are not smart enough to figure out that:
a)Half a century ago, a different kind of nuclear reactor was invented, one that burns Thorium - an almost inexhaustible supply of fuel, and much cheaper than the enriched-uranium fuel used by current reactors. It can even use the nuclear waste from other reactors as fuel! The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, or LFTR for short, operates at low pressures, so it could never explode like the reactor at Chernobyl, and its liquid-fuel design makes it physical impossible to overheat, like the reactor at Three Mile Island.

Unfortunately, the LFTR wasn't good for making weapons-grade plutonium, so it was abandoned.

b)Molten Salt Reactors & Renewables
MSRs ability to easily and safely vary its power output, simply producing more electricity when it is needed and less when it is not. Conversely Renewable Energy sources do not produce electricity when the 'sun does not shine and the wind is not blowing'. MSRs could 'idle' when the sun was shining or the wind blowing, and then increase their power output as either the demand increased or the Renewable Energy source declined.
This is a natural synergy between MSRs and Renewables, as by reducing the MSR's power output, the lifetime of its graphite in the nuclear core and along its walls is extended. Renewables win with MSRs on the grid by helping Renewables being able to increase their contribution to the Electric Grid without destabilization from Renewables' intermittent supply, and Renewables would increase the MSR's graphite lifetime and reduce the cost of its replacement by reducing the MSRs' output when the 'sun is shining and the wind is blowing'.

Intelligent Nuclear, such as MSRs in partnership with Renewables, is the lowest cost and least carbon dioxide emitting strategy any country could pursue.

c)Efficiency in all "suspects" is essential, so a price hike is good, mothball it all till everyone is thinking Superconductors in a Global Grid and Renewable Nuclear powered Mag-Lev Trains, preferably on the same gauge and Voltage Please

"Only two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity. And I am not so sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

We surely are doomed !

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