The Wall Street Journal wrote this on Thorium MARCH 19, 2011
…Does a Different Nuclear Power Lie Ahead? By MATT RIDLEY
Might the Fukushima accident eventually create a chance for the nuclear industry to “reboot”? In recent years some have begun to argue that solid-fuel uranium reactors like the ones in Japan are an outdated technology that deserves to peter out and be replaced by an entirely different kind of nuclear energy that will be both safer and cheaper…
The attention brought by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant break down has had unexpected attention brought to the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor which by the way has no need for water or containment and cannot melt down and will not radiate the worst nuclear isotopes.
There was a time when the Americans chose a path based on the perceived need to compete with the Russians for military supremacy. Nuclear weapons needed Plutonium. The method at the time was to breed Plutonium in a reactor. But Thorium Molten Salt Reactors could not produce Plutonium. This was viewed as a negative and became shelved.
Fifty years later, the worst nuclear breakdown since Chernobyl in 1986 has turned turned out to be relatively minor and the 50 remaining nuclear reactors in Japan remain safe. The different circumstances are so obvious. For instance human error was responsible for the Chernobyl accident. A natural disaster of such an unexpected strength that has not been experienced by Japan in modern history caused the disruption of 4 reactor units at the same plant in Fukushima Daiichi. The safety record for nuclear power plants has been unsurpassed by any other power facility or other industry.
The antinuclear movement has unwittingly helped the progress of nuclear energy. Articles such as these will now become more common over the next few months. The reality is that people are asking why has there been so little innovation over the last 30 years? Can reactors be made safer?
One of the main inventors of the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, Alvin Weinberg, knew that they were superior to the solid fueled reactors and pushed for their acceptance. He eventually lost his job for making too much noise about it when the politics of the time were more about arms than climate change. Weinberg was ahead of his time. He also designed the Light Water Reactor, currently the most popular reactors, which he himself turned against.
Now considered a fourth generation technology the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor shows the most promise as a nuclear energy design precisely because they solve the problems that made the older nuclear power plant designs unpopular.