This Sandia paper offers insights as to the potential for various renewable energy sources. This is one of the sources that Elon Musk is using to guide his vision.
Richard Perez offers similar information graphically, see below.
Enter thorium. Just imagine:
It’s potential is actually 400x larger than that of the uranium if fissioned in the closed cycle. Its high temps would be able to power 10 billion people at above modern standards, make liquid fuels from air and water on a reliable 24/7 basis, provide for molten salt energy storage (for its own backup) AND deliver the VAST amounts of power necessary for machinery to properly sequester the half trillion tons or so of fossil fuels waste.
Now, imaging a world of limited power, where time of use terms, required for decreasing energy infrastructures limit the development and PROSPERITY of all countries.
I am cautiously optimistic about closed cycle nuclear see link here. Thorium is appealing because it burns the waste products from rare earth metal mining. Rare earths are great for all kinds of things but the low level radioactive waste from mining them has proven such a serious disposal problem that it was banned in the US. Also, traditional nuclear uses only a small fraction of the total available energy in the nuclear fuel. Some of the closed cycle reactors ‘burn’ this spent fuel leaving by-products that are much safer and have shorter half life’s. This is very exciting.
It is also the case that the Perez diagram does not accurately portray the potential of closed cycle nuclear which gets at least an additional order of magnitude of energy out of the fuel cycle. My concern is that there are some downsides to the closed loop approach which are being glossed over. They may or may not be serious but showing the positives without a frank discussion of the challenges is propaganda not discussion. ‘too cheap to meter’, ‘infinite supply’ and ‘trust us the issues are minor’ are all refrains from the boiling water reactor era so the public is understandably reticent about wonderful claims about new nuclear technologies.
If you have links to discussions that include descriptions of the challenges of ‘on the fly’ processing of materials please forward them to me and I will add them to my post on this topic.
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