There is a growing chorus of voices advocating for the development of closed cycle nuclear reactors. The most hyped approach is the Thorium reactor but there are others also. In this post I will aggregate links to information on Thorium and related nuclear energy. This approach has not been demonstrated in a commercial system and there are some aspects that require further technology development. However the people advocating are much more focused on the benefits than the challenges to it is difficult to assess the timeline to commercial viability, the cost and the proliferation risk. That said, the advantages are many and make it quite interesting. These include:
- Uses much more of the fuel, traditional nuclear leaves behind a lot of unfissioned material.
- Does not use a pressurized vessel.
- Operates at higher temperature yielding much higher thermodynamic efficiency,
- Byproducts have shorter half life,
- Can ‘burn’ long half-life waste from traditional reactors and convert it to much less dangerous radioactive materials with shorter half life.
- For all practical purposes, the fuel is nearly limitless
- Uses difficult to dispose of waste from rare earth mining
Thorium, promotional web site here
Molten salt reactor article