Suggested Discussion Outline

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johnkarls
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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

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A. Advantages of Thorium-Fueled Nuclear Reactors

1. No greenhouse-gas emissions (true of all nuclear reactors)

2. Do not require containment chambers because meltdowns are physically impossible (this is both a safety and cost factor)

3. Do not require elaborate cooling systems (this is both a safety and cost factor)

4. Impossible to make a bomb from thorium -- and significantly more difficult to make a bomb from uranium bred in thorium reactors than from enriched natural uranium

5. Thorium reactors can safely consume uranium from decommissioned nuclear warheads and from spent uranium-reactor fuel rods that, unlike France, the U.S. does not permit to be re-processed because the uranium fuel rods would become weapons grade

6. Because fuel is reprocessed on the fly, downtime is virtually eliminated

7. Thorium reactors act as breeders, producing as much fuel as they consume

8. Thorium has an incredibly-high “burn-up” meaning that there is virtually no long-lived radioactive waste to deal with afterwards

9. Thorium is plentiful (scoop up a few handfuls of sand from many beaches in India and you have enough thorium to power Mumbai for a year -- there is enough thorium readily accessible to provide all of the earth’s energy for, as a practical matter, all eternity)

10. Thorium is so stable that it is NOT capable of initiating a nuclear chain reaction on its own

11. Thorium reactors are so small that they can be mass-produced in factories and assembled on site -- to replace huge uranium reactors, it would only be necessary to assemble several of the small modular thorium reactors into a larger plant


B. Discussion Issues

1. Of the 20 energy sources listed by cost/kW in the DOE’s NEMS EMM Report (please see Q&A-7 which was contained in last week’s newsletter and is also posted on this Bulletin Board under "Participant Comments"), uranium-based nuclear power is by far the cheapest if supply-limited sources (such as hydro because few new dams can be built) and “dirty” sources (especially greenhouse-gas generators) are eliminated. Accordingly, isn’t action required to avoid “dirty” sources such as coal and “frack-ed” natural gas from winning the energy derby???

2. We have often concluded in the past that a “clean” energy source that is more economical than any of the “dirty” energy sources is required to solve the global-warming crisis [nobody has ever answered affirmatively during one of our discussions whether s/he would advocate, for example, invading China militarily to prevent it from continuing to construct monster-size coal-fired electrical-generation plants at the rate of one/day]. Are we still agreed on this point???

3. It would appear that because of its advantages (please see Section A), thorium reactors may well be cheaper than even the cheapest energy sources = coal and, increasingly, natural gas from “frack-ing.” Accordingly, shouldn’t we push now for funding development of thorium reactors before natural gas from “frack-ing” is too ensconced to challenge???

4. Most, if not all, greenhouse-gas “solutions” merely try to reduce emissions significantly by the middle of the century which only means SLOWING THE RATE of global warming. Don’t we really need a universal carbon-free energy source (for example, even vehicles could operate on electricity produced from thorium) that would free up the earth’s diminished capacity to deal with “unavoidable” carbon-dioxide emissions (i.e., normal breathing and flatulence from the earth’s exploding human population)???

5. With regard to Issue 3, we have often noted in the past that Israel and the United States are the earth’s “Saudi Arabias” of fractured natural gas. Accordingly, even if thorium reactors prove to be slightly more expensive than gas “frack-ing,” would it be morally indefensible for the United States to watch the rest of the world power itself with thorium reactors while the U.S. enjoys a slightly-higher standard of living from powering itself with “frack-ed” natural gas???

6. We have often noted in the past that global warming can be solved with a small nuclear war once every century or so. And we have also noted quite often in the past that permitting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons will mean that the Gulf State Six (Saudi, Kuwait, etc.) as well as Turkey, Egypt, etc., will immediately implement their announced policy of also going nuclear because they do not trust the American nuclear umbrella. And we have also noted that Iran has been ruled since 1979 by Ayatollahs who daily announce their hostility to Europe and America and whose religion holds that every martyr, together with 72 close relatives/friends, by-pass a Judgment Day that is fearsome to contemplate and proceed directly to Paradise. Accordingly, have we reached the point that a nuclear war in the Middle East in the next decade or so is inevitable and, therefore, no action need be taken with respect to global warming???

*****
Our discussion probably won’t wander beyond the first three issues which should be sufficient to raise the question of whether we should launch one of our Six-Degrees-Of-Separation E-mail campaigns proposing substantial U.S. governmental funding for development of thorium reactors (per our author, p. 230, a mere $5 billion would be sufficient to develop commercial thorium reactors). In this regard, the most recent posting by Cal Burgart (our nuclear expert who proposed this month’s book) includes an e-mail response he elicited from the long-time Director of the nation’s Oakridge nuclear-science laboratory that illustrates the inertia of the nation’s nuclear-research establishment. And our author repeatedly documents how the nation’s nuclear-power industry will fight for the status quo.

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