Review by Rick Maltese of the book by Robert Hargraves titled
If any of us were picked to join a team to decide on an energy policy what would you do? I’d want a book that was easy to follow, clearly referenced with facts expanded on about the leading energy solutions.
Robert Hargraves does just that. His book takes you through some fundamentals and then shows you the facts in summary fashion. Exactly what we would need to be up to speed when joining discussions about
the pros and cons of various competing forms of energy. But more than that. It is like the textbook that you first go to when you want to get to the bottom of something nuclear or other energy related topic.
Choosing to study molten salt nuclear reactors is a rewarding path of study because the physics is fascinating and multidisciplinary. It really is an excellent course study book besides an important resource book. The first chapters are dedicated to getting you up to speed on the physics and science of energy. This is truly instructive and prepares you for digging deeper if your inquiry demands it.
Most people will likely skip sections and flip through to sections that match your area of interest but as a person who has been hooked by the idea of molten salt reactors and how Thorium plays a role this book satisfies and keeps you wanting to return for more.
There are eight chapters. The first four are introductory and could be considered the primer that prepares you for the rest explaining the benefits of nuclear energy and the solutions it provides for a sick planet. They cover some of the ways that energy has changed the course of history and our dependence on energy. He gets into how we abuse the planet’s finite resources and how we have failed to adapt new technology to our advantage to help improve the quality of life and avoid climate change. Chapter four covers both the competing and available energy sources. He explains what they have in common and the means by which to harness their benefits and which ones perform the best.
My personal thanks to Robert Hargraves for narrowing down what takes place when we convert that energy. He does an excellent job of explaining that electrical energy is the common goal since it has the most potential to be applied and explains which methods are the most efficient at achieving that.
Chapter five covers the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor and devotes thirty pages at the end to the contenders. Nuclear advocates who recognize the value of nuclear energy will be glad that the book is fair about evaluating the alternative nuclear energy sources. Robert makes that clear how nuclear energy has too much to offer to be limited to one type of reactor.
Chapter six deals with safety and the common myths about radiation and relative safety to other energy types.
Chapter seven handles sustainability and how the LFTR can provide benefits worldwide. This is the chapter that brings up the topics some will remember from his Aim High lecture and earlier book.
Chapter eight covers energy policy and the lack thereof. Some recommendations and ways to reduce expense. And the spin off medical and industrial uses of nuclear and particularly LFTRs and the need for education of the public.
The book includes a glossary, an excellent reference section that is also available on his website at
and two appendices. Appendix A is the paper that Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir collaborated that was published in American Scientist. Appendix B is the paper by Ralph Moir and Edward Teller published in 2005 two years after Edward Teller’s death. And finally an important index that could grow in future reprints.
This is a very likely candidate for a college or university text book. It is the kind of book that you can imagine will have several editions and have a good chance at becoming the authoritative book on the subject.