Toward risk-free nuclear with Thorium ?

The French magazine Science & Vie [Fr] published this month a lengthy series of articles on thorium-based nuclear, and how it could solve the various issues encountered with uranium-based energy generation.

Much more safer, without the need to be enriched, Thorium is also four times more abundant than Uranium. Molten salt reactors could also recycle the waste of current reactors.

In today’s post we will have a look at the various other advantages of this still not commercially developped technology.

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Book review : Uranium, by Tom Zoellner

Here is a post I should have published last year as I read Uranium, by Tom Zoellner. Here is my review. It offers a detailed history of the discovery and the use of the 92nd element in the periodic table of the chemical elements.

Will the 21st century be Uranium’s century like the 20th was oil’s and the 19th coal’s ? It is way to early to tell. The century is only ten years old and as oil and coal still account large parts of the world energy mix.

 (Nota : I wrote that review last year and pretty didn’t change anything about it. I am fully aware a huge nuclear accident took place in Fukushima in-between… )

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A real nuclear renaissance is under way

As I was reading an article [Es] on the expansion of nuclear in China – where 24 reactors are currently being built compared to 12 online to date – I was wondering if a nuclear renaissance is really under way.

To World Nuclear News it seems to be the case as 58 reactors are currently being built in 15 countries around the world. Most reactors currently planned are in Asia, as the economy and the electricity demand increase rapidly.

The capacity of nuclear power plants around the world could reach 511 to 807 GWe by 2030, to be compared to the current 327 GWe. (from +63% to +246%).

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Iran starts its first nuclear reactor

To the New York Times, 36 years after the construction began, Iran finally opened its first nuclear reactor. The plant has a capacity of one gigawatt (compared to the 1,650 MW of an EPR).

Many around the world are fearing for the region’s peace as the uranium used in the plant could also be used for bombs and missiles. The Iranian government promised to give the spent fuel rods to Russia – who helped building this plant.

This would prevent proliferation. The Bushehr plant will begin producing electricity later this year , once the 82 tonnes of low-enriched uranium will have been delivered by Russia.

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An overview of future fission nuclear technologies

Nuclear plant in NorwayAfter my articles on the 10 reasons to support nuclear power and the one the past and present of nuclear energy it is time to have a look at the main future technologies.

David JC MacKay on his website mentions two main fission possibilities : fast breeders and thorium and fusion. We will have a look at thesemost promising solutions as well as to other technologies.

The needs for safer, cheaper and cleaner nuclear solutions are important as the IAEA forecasts the demand for nuclear is to increase by 60 percent in the next twenty years.

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Mini-nuclear plants available within five years

I never mentioned before today mini nuclear plants. It is now time to do so as the company Hyperion Power Generation plans to sell mini nuclear modules within five years.

Relatively small (see left for scale), these modules could bring affordable and greenhouse gases-free electricity to up to 10,000 households for seven to ten years without being refueled.

Is this a good idea? Are safety issues tackled in a convincing way? Wouldn’t that increase nuclear proliferation? The answers to these questions are in today’s article.

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