From the guardian.co.uk environment blog, Duncan Clark Friday 9 September 2011:
Parliamentary events are often dull affairs, but Thursday night’s launch of the Weinberg Foundation – a new pressure group advocating thorium nuclear energy – was quite the opposite. I can’t remember the last time I stood in a room full of people concerned about climate change that was so full of optimism.
Part of the warm glow may have been the result of a small pang of pride at the Guardian’s involvement. Two of the key people behind it all – the host, Bryony Worthington, and the keynote speaker, nuclear engineer Kirk Sorensen – met at the Manchester Report, a Guardian event on climate solutions. Worthington was on the judging panel; Sorensen was advocating a little-known nuclear reactor design based on liquid thorium fuel. …
The idea is to create a new generation of nuclear reactors based on the element thorium, as opposed to the uranium used to produce nuclear power today. Thorium, its advocates claim, is beneficial not only because it’s far more abundant and widely distributed in the Earth’s crust than uranium; in addition, liquid-fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs) could theoretically be much smaller, much cheaper and much safer than conventional nuclear reactors. The waste they produce would remain dangerous for a far shorter period and, crucially, couldn’t be used to create nuclear weapons. As a bonus, these fourth-generation nuclear plants could even burn up the dangerous plutonium stored in existing nuclear waste stockpiles, using it as a fuel. The Weinberg team is already talking to Sellafield about this idea.
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