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I just read an interesting article in Wired Magazine on nuclear power plants fueled by thorium. Thorium is a close cousin to uranium and can produce a sustained fission reaction and therefore energy. A thorium power plant would create significantly less volume of waste that is also much less radioactive than the waste from a uranium fueled plant. So how long have scientists and politicians known about this much cleaner substitute for uranium? A couple years? Try 50! So how green would a thorium nuclear power plant really be?

Less Waste That Is Also Less Radioactive
I mentioned that using thorium would produce much less waste that was also less radioactive than current nuclear power plants. This is obviously good. The problem of where to store nuclear power plant waste would be much simpler to solve if there were less of it and it only had to be stored safely for hundreds of years rather than hundreds of thousands.

A Safe and Carbon Free Energy Source
Proponents of thorium plants claim theyd be much safer than current uranium plants and much less likely to meltdown. Nuclear power plants emit no carbon dioxide and are currently better at supplying base loads than wind and solar.

Still Mined
Like coal and uranium, thorium would have to be mined and mining is rarely, if ever, a clean process. Given that it would take a large amount of coal to produce the same amount of electricity produced from a small amount of thorium, it is likely that the environmental impact of mining thorium could be much smaller than that of mining coal. Thorium, like coal, is also found conveniently in the United States, which is valuable in terms of energy independence.

Still A Source Of Thermal Pollution
Like uranium and coal powered plants, thorium power plants would produce large amounts of heat pollution. These types of power plants typically pump in cool water from a nearby lake or river and pump out hot water. This can mean death to fish and other wildlife species that require cool water to live in. Artificially heated water can also provide invasive species a foothold in places they wouldnt otherwise be able to grow. Solar Panels Adelaide would building lots of thorium power plants be a good thing? Let me know what you think.

 

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