Just a short post here, but this is something entirely news to me, coming from a Forbes article.
There is an element which is not uranium that can produce (pretty green) nuclear power that is more abundant than uranium, cheaper than uranium and much safer than uranium. It is called Thorium, two positions away from uranium on the periodic table.
So why on earth are we not using this element to produce abundant, cheap and safe nuclear power? Here is the interesting answer: it can’t make a nuclear bomb. When uranium was researched, it got all the government money because it had the potential to make a horrific bomb, while thorium (discovered in the early 1800’s) did not. Thorium requires an input of electrons to keep it going while enriched uranium gets a chain reaction going on its own. But since a big bomb requires a fissile chain reaction, thorium never did get government money for research while our current and dangerous (note: Fukushima) uranium-based nuclear plants emerged from all the bomb-making research. If Iran was making nuclear power plants out of thorium, there would be no need for all the worry.
So the point of this post is the irony that mankind’s desire to blow up everyone else has effectively promoted a dangerous material for peaceful purposes while holding back the development of a material that would be of huge benefit to a peace-loving humanity. Why do we do that sort of stuff anyway?
Regardless, it may be time to “Think Thorium”!