Since renewable energy+storage is at price parity with fossil fuel generation, already beyond parity with this or any other nuclear infrastructure and still getting cheaper, I don't see any chance of thorium reactors being remotely competitive economically. That's not to say we shouldn't try. There may well be some niche application for it but it won't be cheap.
Brian M
If the potential use of thorium is so good, then why was it dropped in the first place? Political, economic or technological issues at the time?
Questions I haven't understood for a long time!
Roy S
The statement that renewable energy plus storage is at a par on cost is preposterous. This is only made to appear true when the economics are grossly distorted by political interference in the marketplace (subsidizing and false pricing). By far the cheapest energy in the last fifty years has been nuclear, and especially the CANDU system, which is also by far the safest.
Roy S, perhaps apprenticeearthwhiz is posting from the future!
Brian M, the government was urged (by Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb) to use the TMSR for commercial power production because of its inherent safety, but the gummint wanted Plutonium to make things go bang!
This is a good thing, but why isn't the USA at the forefront? After all, we INVENTED the technology, and now we are GIVING it away (mostly to the Chinese, and (no fools, they) are running with it!
@ Brian M Just think about nucelar weapons having to use Uranium/Plutonium and you got the (majority of) the answer...
A simple 100 mile x 100 mile square of PV panels can power the entire USA. We simply don't need it and all the hassles with uranium and thorium and materials to dispose of some day. Today nothing has been done with a long term disposal place for radioactives and most sits in ponds next to the energy plants which is ridiculous if they are hit with bombs they become dirty bombs. No thanks. Our sun provides all the energy mankind will ever need--wind is a product of the sun so wind and solar are all solar derived and all mankind needs.
@VincentWolf, only in theory can you supply enough energy for america in 100 x 100 of solar. You have to account for losses which would be absolutely enormous transporting it all over the country from a single plant. They can make hydrogen transportation more efficient than electricity over powerlines. They can make hydrogen as efficent as natural gas.
This reactor could work with green energy to replace battery stores, or make them a lot smaller. If instead of making really, really wasteful batteries that take hundreds of years to degrade anyway we could make a nuclear plant capable of picking up the slack in green, it would make sense. I'm sure these plants are more green than a billion batteries.
My question is would it be possible for this type of reactor suffer the kind of catastrophic meltdown that happened at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1959 (here's a link ) because that would certainly be, er, sub-optimal.
Thorium was dropped because it wasn't PROFITABLE enough.