Thorium: the fuel of the future

Nick Bird, Correspondent

According to a 2019 report by the United Nations, humanity only has 10 years left to prevent irreversible effects from climate change. After this, there will be no going back.     

Humanity needs to find a way to create energy that is not based on carbon fuels.

It has become clear, to the world that oil is dangerous. From spills to air pollution, America’s favorite black beverage has more than its share of problems. 

In addition, as appealing as green energy is, its inefficiency means it is not yet feasible as a primary power source. 

I believe for this reason that our future is not in wind or solar, but nuclear energy.

Solar panels are not sufficient to power our nation. They require 14 square miles to generate as much as one nuclear power plant, almost half the size of Naperville. To create enough solar panels to meet the energy needs of the United States would require more than 11 million acres of land near cities. 

Nuclear energy is comparably much safer than other energy fields.  

For example, the often feared Chernobyl nuclear accident was primarily caused by untrained personnel and technological errors that have long since been corrected according to the World Nuclear Association.

Nuclear waste is one of the largest problems with nuclear energy, but in the United States, it is safely disposed of properly. Combined with modern technology, nuclear waste poses little harm to the public. Beyond this, certain kinds of nuclear fuels produce little waste.

There is, however, one nuclear material that stands above all else; thorium. Thorium is efficient, safe, and powerful. Thorium also requires an external radioactive piece of plutonium to maintain its fission reaction. If the thorium gets too hot, it can be drained away from the plutonium, thus preventing nuclear meltdowns. Thorium also gives off much less radioactive material. Researchers at Stanford University have found that thorium gives off 100 times less radioactive waste than uranium, the most commonly used fuel.

When it comes to power, thorium excels. The European Council for Nuclear Research estimates that 1 tonne of thorium generates as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, which is also equivalent to 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. 

Finally, the sole reason that most of the world never invested in thorium is due to the fact that it cannot be made into nuclear weapons, which I believe is a perfectly reasonable trade-off for clean and powerful energy.

With a growing population and demand for energy comes the need to invest in new sources. 

Thorium-based nuclear energy is safer, cleaner, and more reliable than depending on oil and other carbon-based fuels. 

Thorium is not only the solution to our current energy problems but a pathway to the future.