[ExI] Could Thorium solve our energy problem?

Brent Neal brentn at freeshell.org
Sat Jul 10 04:25:11 UTC 2010

On 9 Jul, 2010, at 22:50, John Clark wrote:

> On Jul 9, 2010, at 9:59 PM, Brent Neal wrote:
>>> That 4.3 million figure is just plain nuts.
>> Undoubtedly. But I'm willing to bet, based on oil (the example Max gave earlier) and other mineral resources, that the actual number for energy-return-feasibly recoverable thorium is less than 10x that number. 
> You say reserves could be 10 times your original figure, that's better but its still ridiculously too small and I'd say the same if you made it 100 times larger; but even if we use your new figure about availability and then correct for your vast underestimate of the amount of energy inherent in Thorium we find that the total amount of energy that element could supply is 10,000 times larger than your original estimate. 

I think you are wildly optimistic and haven't done either the research or the math on how much energy is released in U-233 fission. :) But there we go then. 

In a sense, I understand your passion for thorium cycle reactors. Thorium-cycle products are difficult (if not impossible, given the reference MSR design from the 1960s) to weaponize, thorium doesn't require isotopic separation like uranium does, and even better, thorium MSR plants can be built with much less capital than uranium LWRs.  But, you know, you still have to dig the stuff up. Enhanced geothermal, solar thermal/solar PV, etc. still have a good deal of advantage over nuclear of any stripe in that regard.  Thorium is somewhat advantaged in that we've already dug a lot of it up trying to get to the neodymium in the ground. Just because there isn't infinity thorium in the ground to power civilization for a hojillion years doesn't mean its not worth doing.


Brent Neal, Ph.D.
<brentn at freeshell.org>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list