If it says Thorium, Thorium, Thorium on the label, label, label…

Gordon McDowell November 20th, 2011

I first heard about LFTR – the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor in 2009 while listening to Google Tech Talks while coding. There were 4 incredibly long technical lectures presented to Google, about a radically different type of nuclear energy which had been successfully demonstrated from 1965 to 1969 (Molten Salt Reactor Experiment).

Over the course of 2011, western governments (UK, Canada, USA) have been reminded of this technology by enthusiasts wondering why it continues to sit neglected. India is moving ahead with a sub-optimal solid fuel thorium reactor (India has lots of thorium, and no uranium). China is moving ahead with the very same concept developed now neglected by the U.S. Government.

2012 will be the year everyone learns about the potential of thorium energy. Why?

We have video.

Motherboard TV has just released THE THORIUM DREAM.

I’ve heard thorium dismissed as an energy source many times by environmentalists: “Why bother? Let’s develop renewable energy instead. We know that works!”

The problem with renewable energy, is that hydro is often conflated to give the impression that solar/wind account for a meaningful amount of energy generation. Here, hydro can be compared to solar/wind.

American energy sources

Whether or not hydro is green (it has significant environmental impact), it is certainly renewable. It is reliable. And it is completely tapped-out. What is not clear from the above graph is which energy sources are dependable.

Here (below) is a random day’s data I grabbed from Texas ERCOT online stats.

Texas Wind Power

Here we see solar’s maximum output being reached… when the energy is not needed. And in many solar deployments, cloudy days are worse than overcast days because the solar farm can’t handle rapid fluctuations in sunlight as clouds pass in front of the sun… they direct their panels/mirrors away from the sun to protect the hardware, and not send energy spikes into the power grid.

This doesn’t mean wind/solar can’t generate useful electricity. Or energy generated with wind/solar isn’t displacing fossil fuel use and reducing CO2 emissions. It is. Yay for that.

But solar/wind are bloody expensive in terms of $/watt during peak hours. And that replacing 20% of our electricity consumption with solar/wind is a completely different scenario from replacing 50% of our electricity production with solar/wind.

Solar/wind will hit a deployment wall, as the off-peak energy they generate becomes less-and-less valuable. Every needed watt not serviced by solar/wind needs the very same investment in oil/gas/coal/nuclear infrastructure we’d be paying for anyway. As more solar/wind farms are deployed, they become increasingly redundant! This may not be immediately apparent, given whatever subsidies are in place and how they are structured. All we’ll see is yet another increase in the cost of essential services. Our cost of living will go up. Our industries will become less competitive. We simply can’t afford to build our electricity supply infrastructure twice over.

So here’s my new video, THORIUM REMIX 2011. It is something I’ve wanted to create since 2009. And I dropped everything to make it as soon as I had the video assets to do so. THORIUM REMIX 2011 explains how LFTR works. Why the Molten Salt Reactor experiment was killed. The problems with today’s nuclear reactors. And finally, it asks what might our world look like with abundant cheap, clean, non-greenhouse-gas emitting energy at our disposal?

The best way to address climate change is to offer a cheaper energy source which does not emit greenhouse gasses. Cheaper. Cheaper doesn’t care if you are an environmentalist or not. Cheaper can’t be dismissed by conservatives as a misguided waste of taxpayer money.

Cheaper love you long time. And that’s thorium, converted to energy in a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.