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Kirk Sorensen: A Detailed Exploration Of Thorium's Potential As An Energy Source

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Kirk Sorensen: A Detailed Exploration Of Thorium's Potential As An Energy Source

Kirk Sorensen, NASA-trained engineer, is a man on a mission to open minds to the tremendous promise that thorium, a near-valueless element in today's marketplace, may offer in meeting future world energy demand.

Compared to Uranium-238-based nuclear reactors currently in use today, a liquid flouride thorium reactor (LTFR) would be:

  • Much safer - no risk of environmental radiation contamination or plant explosion (e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three-Mile Island)
  • Much more efficient at producing energy - over 90% of the input fuel would be tapped for energy; vs <1% in today's reactors
  • Less waste-generating - most of the radioactive by-products would take days/weeks to degrade to safe levels, vs centuries
  • Much cheaper - reactor footprints and infrastructure would be much smaller, and could be constructed in modular fashion
  • More plentiful - LFTR reactors do not need to be located next to large water supplies, as current plants do
  • Less controversial - the byproducts of the thorium reaction are pretty useless for weaponization
  • Longer-lived - thorium is much more plentiful than uranium and treated as valueless today. There is virtually no danger of running out of it given LFTR plant efficiency 

Most of the know-how and technology to build and maintain LFTR reactors exists today. If made a priority, the US could have its first fully-operational LFTR plant running at commercial scale in under a decade.

But no such LFTR plants are in development. In fact, the US shut down its work on thorium-based energy production decades ago. And has not invested materially in related research since.

Staring at the looming energy cliff ahead created by Peak Oil, it begs the question - why not?

As best Kirk can tell, we are not pursuing thorium's potential today because we are choosing not to - we are too wedded to the U-238 path we've been investing in for decades. Indeed, the grants that funded the government's thorium research in the 50s and 60s were primarily focused on weapons development; not new energy sources. Once our attention turned to nuclear energy, we simply applied the uranium-based know-how we developed from our atomic bomb program rather than asking: is there a better way?

This is an excellent and thought-provoking interview. I highly recommend you also visit Kirk's website [10] and its FAQs [11] to familiarize yourself with the thorium cycle, as I predict we will be revisiting the thorium story again in the future.

And we encourage our readers with engineering and nuclear expertise to share their insights in the Comments thread below. We are looking for ways to light the path ahead as we begin to descend down the global energy cliff. Will thorium shine brightly for us?

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Kirk Sorensen (36m:02s):


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Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:26 | 2678062 stinkhammer
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Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:44 | 2678102 Fish Gone Bad
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Government needs people to NEED it.  If people had everything they needed, then they would not NEED government.  Cheap energy?  That would violate what I just wrote about government. 

And there you have it in a nutshell, how life works according to Fish Gone Bad.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:27 | 2678167 malikai
malikai's picture


I firmly support thorium as an energy source. India (with the world's largest supply of thorium) also naturally support and are developing reactors to burn it. IIRC they're using the old breeder designs from the 60s as a blueprint to develop their own build.

Meanwhile in the US, there is no talk of MSRs/LFTRs or even the decent LFR which was the recipient of many a tax dollars in DoE subsidies.


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:39 | 2678220 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

The author does not understand why we use Uranium and Plutonium currently. Not because it's good, it's because it is free. It's left over from our insane governments nuclear arms buildup. We already have enough solar energy to satisfy humans energy needs a million times over. The real problem is that people let themselves be brainwashed. Switching from an extremely radioactive material to a lesser radioactive material is not the solution


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:58 | 2678246 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

You couldn't be farther from the truth. Uranium fission is used because of the massive momentum that has been built on that path. In the 50s Uranium was chosen over thorium because of the weapons-grade fissile material that could be obtained from it, even though thorium already showed more potential as an energy source.

The entire boom of nuclear energy was caused by the need to build up nuclear weapons inventory.

Now that it has been built up and reduced, there is much less interest in it, since it is only needed for maintenance. Nevertheless, opinion has been kept from considering thorium as the better alternative in the circumstances; after all, Big Gov's authoritarian power structure loses its relevance in an environment of abundant, decentralized energy. 

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:17 | 2678270 malikai
malikai's picture

LFRs would go a long way towards getting us there. Small, relatively safe, decentralized. I think they would make for a good stepping stone on the way to MSRs/thorium.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:49 | 2678403 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

If you want to read more, this is by the same author, same info, much older ...

Lots of interesting slides in that one!



P.S. Save a copy, I have a hard time finding the original PPT that I saw back in 2008 (NASA green energy forum). This is a very close approximate.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 22:40 | 2678920 Indrid Cold
Sun, 08/05/2012 - 06:51 | 2679170 Svendblaaskaeg
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Thank You!

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 12:23 | 2679225 sqz
sqz's picture

It is a crying shame about the nuclear energy power industry. If they had been focussed on power generation and being allowed to truly innovate, LFTR and MSR type efficient, small, passively-safe and lower cost designs would have been the norm since the 1960's and they would likely have seen more widespread use of nuclear power. However, this quasi-government industry and their subindustries have seen no real innovation since their creation. This is widely acknowledged, even by Bill Gates with his backing of the Terrapower (uranium) startup.

Unfortunately, in markets, timing is very important. Other power generation technologies have greatly advanced and some are actually accelerating in either innovation, reduced cost or both, e.g. solar.

You have to remember the key disadvantage of nuclear power, both conventional and MSR-type, is not safety nor waste compared to other power generation methods. It is cost and in the case of conventional plants, simply the time it takes to get a new one online (10-15 years). Thus, combined with lack of innovation, the window for nuclear power to make any further meaningful impact on most of the world's energy needs has dramatically narrowed. Only China, with its enormous growing energy requirements, is continuing to invest heavily in both conventional, MSR and other types of cutting edge reactors (e.g. pebble bed reactors that are so portable and safe they can be carried on back of trucks).

For the rest of the world, it is looking like natural gas plants to tide us over for another 70 years or so plus renewables, will be the primary source of new capacity and replacement for end-of-life capacity.

Well done to ZH for picking this up though. Not many mainstream news outlets are even aware of Sorensen's endeavours and the most they know of Thorium are India's old and fairly unsuccessful hybrid/solid cycle efforts.

Oh, and engineertheeconomy, I think the author/Kirk Sorensen fully understands nuclear energy power generation history a lot more than you do. It is pretty much the failings of history towards truly efficient and safe power generation that form the entire impetus for his work, including deeply understanding why we still unfortunately use uranium-238 and plutonium currently.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 12:38 | 2679537 redpill
redpill's picture

And it's no coincidence that the prototype fusion reactors they are working on (ITER) is the most expensive, complicated, and heavy R&D approach to fusion power.  The approach to energy has nothing to do with finding the best source and getting it implemented quickly, rather the focus is on ensuring any change occurs very slowly so the existing fascist union of large government and large energy companies can maintain their power structure and they can fleece as much money from the populace in the process as possible.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:08 | 2678414 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Cool, I might be wrong on this, but I don't think you are a hundred percent right either. To set the record straight, I am not for any kind of Nuclear Energy or anything radioactive for that matter. However, you say that our stockpile of bombs has been reduced. I say really? To my knowledge they have only been decommissioned. The radioactive material is still highly radioactive. That is why they are currently using it in our Nuclear Power Plants. The shit is still here, it was not transported to a parellel universe. Thorium would have been a better choice, but that did not meet the bankers desire to kill their enemies with cancer... generation after generation. And why anyone would disagree with Solar is beyond me, that's just plain retarded. I just finished assisting with a multi billion dollar renewable solar/wind project thatt's already powering the grid. Hey, but if you insist that I don't know what I'm talking about, you could be right. But then you could be wrong about one or two things yourself

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:15 | 2678517 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

I was saying that you were far from the truth in reference to the fact that you stated we used uranium because it was free. This is wrong, and it is precisely because there is existing (obsolete) infrastructure due to the buildup, combined with the fact that it is far from free, that mankind still has permission to use it. By its nature and required engineering it is a very centralized energy source, that is easily controlled by authorities. Thorium, on the other hand, has definite advantages in that regard, aside from the potential to bring about energy abundance, which would be disastrous to TPTB.

The beauty and efficiency of thorium (we're talking 2 orders of magnitude better than even the best uranium designs) is that is has comparatively minimal amounts of biproducts in the end. What would be radioactive waste for uranium designs is simply a new generation of fuel that will start new fission cycles in parallel to the other cycles already going on in the reactor. The biproducts are burned and burned again until the waste is reduced to a very low-grade waste material.

Then consider passive safety of even the simplest designs that easily rival with the best of Gen 3.5 uranium designs, and you've got a winner.

I didn't disagree with solar - I actually love solar concentrators for large scale projects, or photovoltaics for independence/mobile sources - but you are exagerating by orders of magnitude when we have enoug solar to power humanity million times over. Yes, the amount of power the sun shines on the earth is incredible, and over astronomical timelines the only significant source of power within the solar system is the sun itself (according to consensus mainstream science). Nevertheless, it is not the end-all-be-all source. It is very expansive (doesn't matter if you have large deserts close by, of course), season, latitude and weather dependent, and a relatively low EROEI while being dependent on comparatively large amounts of high tech materials and rare earth metals.

All of these combine to make solar a very poor base load provider for the majority of the globe. Sure, you have to make best use of it where it works, just like geothermal/wind/tidal, but a sane energy policy will make sure to establish redundancy over the different energy sources as a way to regulate input and provide for different needs.

The obvious one being that in terms of energy production and, nothing beats nuclear's density, and nothing even comes close to thorium's independence from external conditions and return over investment energy-wise.

I'd really like to see you try and fit a square-mile solar project on a megascale cruiseboat/floating city, for instance. Or underwater. Or in space. Or anywhere north of the 40th parallel (same in the south hemisphere). Or anywhere in the tropics that actually have dry/rainy seasons where the project would be useless for entire months out of each year. And so on and so on...

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:30 | 2678550 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

"Free" was the wrong word to use. I was simply pointing out that they were making bombs and had what they considered to be "left overs". My mistake, sorryz

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:37 | 2678554 PersonalRespons...
PersonalResponsibility's picture

Nuclear power is the side effect from building nuclear bombs.  In order to enrich radio active elements to be bomb grade, they needed to build nuclear plants.  They then though, hey, why not use a steam turbine to produce electricity.  I'm all for stopping anyone from building conventiional nuclear power plants because the only reason to do so is to obtain nuclear fuel for bombs.


Let's stick with thorium.  gee, wonder why no one does.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:26 | 2678680 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Central bankers, Central Government, Central power source... how convienent for them to keep the people entirely dependant. It's like a war on independance from the grid. Somebody should invent a declaration of independance...oh wait... didn't we already do that?


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:57 | 2678718 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

Now I green arrowed you. Still, maybe it's because living in the tropics I've learned how you can do without electricity - especially being a vegetarian - so I would actually prefer to use all available surfaces, be they horizontal, vertical or sloped, into high-yield edible landscaping/permaculture. You would be surprised at the amount of organic food you can get out of the proper installations even with minimal garden area - using the house's walls and fences as vertical growing surfaces helps, as well as using the roof... and the conversion factor from sunlight power to bioaccumulated energy is much more efficient and useful than anything else you would be doing with that electricity.

I'd put that solar panel on a pillar, so it used as little real estate as possible... 

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 02:12 | 2679083 dark pools of soros
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do you have a cat?  it laughs at you for being a vegan


Mon, 08/06/2012 - 00:55 | 2680917 dirtbagger
dirtbagger's picture

"In order to enrich radio active elements to be bomb grade, they needed to build nuclear plants. " 

Okay Mr Time Warp please explain how the first bomb was built in 1944-45 when the first nuclear power plant was built in Russia in 1954, England in 1955, and the US in 1957

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 09:51 | 2681450 Tunga
Tunga's picture

The first reactor operated in 1942 on a raquets court in Chicago.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:15 | 2678812 flapdoodle
flapdoodle's picture

No doubt TPTB have penciled in Thorium as the power source of choice, once they have reduced the world population to a more controllable 500 million...

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:35 | 2678386 CrazyCooter
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Hey, before 200 years ago, almost all of society lived on solar energy. Horses ate grass (solar) and families heated with wood (solar).

Solar will NEVER come CLOSE to supporting a modern lifestyle for anything CLOSE to current world population levels. The math just doesn't work.

The present population, an overshoot enabled entirely by fossil fuels, will correct in future generations.

Thorium, as best I can tell based on everything I have read, is the only option that comes CLOSE to supporting a modern lifestyle ONE THOUSAND years from now. Everything else collapses before then due to non-renewable supply or population demand.

Thorium will run out too (also non-renewable), however it will be much after 1,000 years.



Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:19 | 2678447 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Sorry Cooter, but you are wrong. I doubt that you are or know any qualified engineers. I doubt that you can do any math at all. The truth is that there are plenty of renewable energy sources, but mainstream media is hell bent on creating another Fukushima. Thorium is not the answer to any of our current or future energy needs. I don't give a flying fuck how many down arrows the trolls on this site give me. I will coutinue to tell the truth as does Arnie Gundersen

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:17 | 2678541 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

You conflate "energy politics" of today with having a modern lifestyle in, say, 200 years.

Thank you for vetting my qualifications on some anonymous forums, as any readers with critical thinking skills will quickly recognize the value and eloquence of your comments and extend those observations to your opinions. Good thing you give a flying fuck about those pesky down votes.

Regarding PWR, which I think should be decommissioned (thanks for asking me about that rather than assuming) as many of them are unsafe and are operated in an unsafe manner. The reality is though, 20% of US base load comes from many of these reactor types, so the "hit" to the cost of energy in the US would be very, very significant. No free lunches.

I never said there were not plenty of renewable options. Instead I focused on the multi-billion world population and the woeful inadequacy of renewables to meet that demand in any significant percentage. In fact, that was precisely the point of my original comment to you, which you conveniently bypassed based on my lack of credentials to have an opinion on the matter.

Oh, and one more thing; my public electric grid is 100% renewable (unless there is an outage - then its diesel back up). I live four miles from work with a public transportation option. How about you?



P.S. Spend some time over at DoTheMath, if of course you still assume I have an inability (or interest) in subjects related to *math* and *energy*. I think you will find the content there, particularly the archives, very enlightening.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:52 | 2678567 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Sorry dude, I'm way, way, way past all that. I'm not even going to begin... let me just share with anyone else that is still reading, that the only entity in the entire world that endorses nuclear energy is the very same entity that profits from it. It is unsafe and is not even remotely necessary. They will spout out propaganda saying that we have to have this huge butload of energy, but it's all horseshit. People do not need all the crap they have in their homes, especially TV's. Watch out for government trolls that seem friendly, they might even have an affectionate name like Cooter.

REMEMBER FUKUSHIMA, all those children over there are going to die horrible, painful radiation related deaths. There is NO SAFE LEVEL OF RADIATION.


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:13 | 2678581 smiler03
smiler03's picture

 "People do not need all the crap they have in their homes, especially TV's."

That's very good of you to say so, personally I think most people waste the internet's resources so you for a start shouldn't have access to it. As for electric light and heating, are you a wuss? Can't you read in the dark whilst living in a sleeping bag in winter? Pray do tell how you lead by example. ("I'm not even going to begin"). Perhaps you live "off grid" and jolly good for doing so but if we were all to do that, I think you would probably have to wipe every city off the planet just to start, maybe that's acceptable to you but is it right?

There'a a widely used meme thats says without power generation we'd go back to the middle ages. I take it you disbelieve this and think we'd all get by with a few solar panels and a small wind turbine on top of everybodies house/flat/apartment/tent? Maybe I'm misjudging you in which case I apologise in advance.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:29 | 2678603 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

There are not simple solutions to all human problems. But yes, I do own a home or two and have one that is completely off the grid. I have a windmill for pumping water up to the tank, a huge garden, livestock and solar panels. I have a small highly insulated home that utilizes the earth temperature and cost's practicall nothing to heat/cool. I can easily and happily live independantly/self sufficiently without any connection to the government grid. They want us all dependant on them so they can control and profit from us. I am rebeling in my own way. I did not learn how to do this from any public school or university. Anybody can do it. If you want to portray me as living in the dark ages, that's fine. If you were to see my farm you would be stunned at how comfortable and relaxed it makes you feel. I have no desire to reconnect to the grid. Anything else you want to know?

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:14 | 2678738 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

Lets give kudos to Engineertheeconomy here. He's actually right that solar by itself could easily provide for the entirety of mankind. The other guy giving himself airs knows apparently nothing about it.
I'm against using solar as a main source, because it takes lots of space, and depends too much on external circumstances to provide a reliable baseload. Still, it's awesome at what it's good at, and by converting 1% of the earth's desert surfaces you could provide abundant energy for all manking with room to grow for years if not decades at exponential growth.
But that would require hundreds of projects, each of them at least on a scale of the Three Gorges Dam. Sure, as a species we could easily do this if we converted the output we waste on the MIC and wars to common projects, but aside from this we can only build up slowly towards it.

Just like geothermal can also easily provide for hundreds of times our current energy use, except for the unfortunate fact that its distribution is radically delimited by geographical features. Tidal could also provide an interesting fraction but has the same limitation.

This is why I affirm that we cannot afford to ignore thorium. Fukushima? Fuck fukushima. It was a lousy Gen 1.5 reactor build on a fault line on the side of a huge stretch of water - the sea - as most lousy uranium reactors need to be.

Retire all pre-Gen 3 reactors; retire all designs that do not feature redundant passive safety mechanisms, each of which is sufficient by itself to physically prevent the possibility of criticality. Within these confines, though, feel welcome to keep working with nuclear - it's still far better than coal, oil, or even than any renewable energy except geothermic and solar (if built in deserts).

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:25 | 2678827 flapdoodle
flapdoodle's picture

You may be right about solar, eventually - but fusion, if it can ever be made self sustaining, will be likely be cheaper in the short/mid term. I would expect solar energy will probably be reserved for trees and vegetation.

But perhaps we are in fact heading towards Freeman Dyson's view that human civilization, advanced enough, will tap and require the entire output of the sun for its needs...


Sun, 08/05/2012 - 00:26 | 2679018 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

Of course, on the long run - if humanity evolves - what we're looking at is a dyson sphere or its logical extension, matrioshka brains. This is why, further upthread, I was referring to the fact that on astronomical timelines, the only significant power source in the solar system is the sun itself.

But that's blue sky thinking. To get to a post-singularity technology level that harnesses planetary/astral engineering, we first need to survive the next 50 years as a technological society.

That means we can't wait for fusion, zero-point energy, or any other "free" energy source which is either already existing according to secret history/conspiracy theories or physically plausible according to the current understanding of physics - that is, there are many dark/blurry spots in our understanding in which they could plausibly fit.

But that it might be possible doesn't help us now. What we need to do is harness that which we already have while orienting further energy development towards the healthiest possible path. That path includes solar, geothermal, tidal, and nuclear - the healthy kind, be it under the form of thorium fission or energy multipliers (I don't remember the exact terminology, but the working model is a particle accelerator that smashes atoms into heavier nuclei to turn them radioactive, and then extracts more energy out of the fission than it took to accelerate the components).

One thing is sure, Gen 1, 2 and even 2.5 uranium reactor designs don't figure in that list. Both solar and geothermal also have large potential, but geothermal is heavily geographically restricted while solar requires an amount of productivity invested which appears to be impossible as long as the MIC runs things... So you're mostly left with nuclear.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 14:53 | 2679878 Reptil
Reptil's picture

The (technical) issue with using solar as main source is not the production of energy but the capacity to store it.

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 00:07 | 2680893 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

I say superconducting storage banks. We're not there yet.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:53 | 2678710 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

As Draghi said, just believe him. No facts, just believe.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:57 | 2678564 smiler03
smiler03's picture

@ engineertheeconomy

Please please tell me the truth about how reneweable energy resources can replace nuclear and fossil fuels in the near future.

The UK is the 8th highest generator of wind power in the world but is paying a high price for it. UK consumers electricity bills are almost twice the price of the US (UK 21.99 cents/kWh. US avg residential 11.80 cents/kWh).

Germany and it's solar power racket is costing a fortune. "Photovoltaics are threatening to become the costliest mistake in the history of German energy policy. Photovoltaic power plant operators and homeowners with solar panels on their rooftops are expected to pocket around €9 billion ($11.3 billion) this year, yet they contribute barely 4 percent of the country's power supply, and only erratically at that." 

"Chancellor Angela Merkel previously promised to cap it at 3.5 cents, but Erdmann's calculations show the EEG contribution jumping to "over 10 cents per kilowatt hour," or nearly three times what the chancellor pledged."

Finally I find it bizarre that you say "MSM is hell bent on creating another Fukushima". You're saying that the media pays for nuclear energy? I could have sworn it was paid for by government subsidy, ie taxpayers. 

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:09 | 2678585 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

MSM is owned by GENERAL ELECTRIC for example. Hmmn, now what was that they profit from... if you can't make the connection between the mainstream media whores and those that profit from nuclear energy, I'm sorry, I can't help you. And as for those morons trying to heat huge uninsulating brick buildings in the middle of winter, well, what do you want? Do you want me to feel sorry for them? If they refuse to acknowledge that all ecosystems have a limit to their growth, then they will have to pay the consequences. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If it is so important to you that you have enought cheap electricity to watch your TV all day and all night for free, why don't you get a job on the nightshift at your nearest radioactive power plant. Hell, maybe they'll even let you live there for free too

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:31 | 2678600 smiler03
smiler03's picture

You're right, you can't help me.

Just a few things though, I live in a small two bedroomed brick house built in 1938. When I was buying my house I had a very small budget and bought the cheapest because it's all that I could afford.

I would love to live in a Passive House but there is no way on earth that I could afford to. Neither would anybody else in the small town that I live in in North East England. It's a fine idea but who would pay for it?

I have insulated my house as much as I can. I have modern double glazing, a solar powered heat source in the form of a south facing conservatory, 14 inches of loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. There are about thirty 80(?) metre tall wind turbines within 4 miles of my house but they are only managing 23% efficiency, despite being in an ideal place.

Grand designs, but only for the wealthy.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:40 | 2678618 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Move to Hawaii, Brazil or anyplace with a decent climate. I would prefer to  live in Columbia or Venezuela rather than next to a Nuclear Power Plant and have my children born with three fucking eyeballs. To each his own

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:27 | 2678833 Acorn10012
Acorn10012's picture

How about a ten-inch dick?

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 14:32 | 2679809 Reptil
Reptil's picture

You're wrong, on all counts.

THIS IS HOW: CHEAP SOLAR coming! ANY SEMICONDUCTOR AS PHOTOVOLTAIC! THIS IS A GAME CHANGER. Breakthrough technology promises photovoltaics from any semiconductor!-solar-cells-from-any-semiconduc Look ma, no doping! Solar cells from any semiconductor material | Electronics News Screening-Engineered Field-Effect Solar Cells - Nano Letters (ACS Publications)


Problems with production of solar panels, not maing a profit is due to badly managed corporations in a hostile business environment. (Solyndra debacle - chinese competition)

Germany faced/faces huge cost updating their (very good but centralised) powergrid. These are longer term investments necessary with large scale renewables.

There's a lot of BULLSHIT dysinfo floating around; Germany has OVERCAPACITY in energy production.
Instead look at nuclear fission: It's now generating only a TINY amount of the total capacity in Germany or the USA. (France and Japan obviously are different)
The "we can't replace nuclear, otherwise our energy production will fail" is a myth. In order to generate enough energy with fission nuclear, a HUGE amount of nuclear powerplants will have to be built.

Of course the Nuclear Industry wants to be deregulated, and even want to revoce evacuation protocols (they don't give a SHIT about human beings living around these plants) but still want the PUBLIC as backstop, if/when it goes wrong. NO insurance corporation is willing to insure Nuclear fission plants.

Uranium, a natural fuel is going to run out in a few decades only. Is it worth building a huge structure of plants and appropriate engergy grids around it? Thorium? MOX? Nuclear warheads? Fast breeders?

There can only be one conclusion: Fission Nuclear is obsolete, uneconomical, and civil nuclear is just a FRONT for the militairy/civil nuclear corporations.

Thorium Recators STILL produce radioactive waste. Less, but it's still the case. A simple fact much overlooked.

MSM is part of the industrial conglomerate: They've not been forthcoming, and have NOT informed the public about the scale of the disaster.

(slow but sure destruction of the natural habitat supporting human civilisation


Face it: Nuclear Fission is bad for EVERYONE except for generating short term profit for those (including British and Dutch royal families) who invested in this old, obsolete and terminally dangerous technology.

It's another malinvestment, that the public is supposed to support, while the public is MISINFORMED about it. We'll all be dead or dying (slowly) and unable to reproduce. Including the shortsighted morons who invested in nuclear.


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:09 | 2678659 azengrcat
azengrcat's picture

Power density 101: How many solar panels does it take to make a solar panel? You know extruding aluminum and melting silicon, high power industrial processes. Solar power is great for a farmer but building an electric car with solar panels is going to take a lot of land. You need a clean base load to support wind/solar and thorium is the best current technology.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:33 | 2678685 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

You are a very sick individual.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:11 | 2678736 malikai
malikai's picture

Math sucks, engineer.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 22:35 | 2678915 Vlad Tepid
Vlad Tepid's picture

The up arrow you gave yourself is so transparent it's laughable.  And by the way, we're still all waiting for you (the genius mathematician engineer childless tent dweller in Venezuela) to answer the above question about how many solar panels it takes to make a solar panel...we're a patient lot, so take your time.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 01:18 | 2679061 patb
patb's picture


1) If you live in the real world you would know the energy cost of a solar panel is refleted in the price.


same with cars, trucks, books....



Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:27 | 2678834 DrunkenPleb
DrunkenPleb's picture

Never say never - the main thing that solar has going for it right now is the same trend of exponential increase in performance that has happened in other semiconductor technologies. It may not make a lot of sense now, but ten years is a very long time in technology terms.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 01:37 | 2679067 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Solar is the way. 

"Solar panels are coming down dramatically in cost per watt. And as a result of that, the total amount of solar energy is growing, not linearly, but exponentially. It’s doubling every 2 years and has been for 20 years. And again, it’s a very smooth curve. There’s all these arguments, subsidies and political battles and companies going bankrupt, they’re raising billions of dollars, but behind all that chaos is this very smooth progression."

"After we double eight more times and we’re meeting all of the world’s energy needs through solar, we’ll be using 1 part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the earth. And we could put efficient solar farms on a few percent of the unused deserts of the world and meet all of our energy needs."

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 02:43 | 2679094 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

So, what you are saying then is, past performance (assuming its factual as presented) is a guarantee of future performance?



Sun, 08/05/2012 - 15:38 | 2679985 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

"So, what you are saying then is, past performance (assuming its factual as presented) is a guarantee of future performance?"



Mon, 08/06/2012 - 09:57 | 2681464 Tunga
Tunga's picture

Peak Solar? Ha Ha Ha! Good one CrazyCooter. But seriously retarded. More solar energy falls on Massachusetts in one day that the whole US generates in a year. 


CC does his math by oil lamp. 

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 00:34 | 2679027 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

"We already have enough solar energy to satisfy humans energy needs a million times over."

What do you do in the winter, if you live in Boston? Even in Beverly Hills, the solar heated swimming pools are cold in the winter.

In Montreal, there are days on end of bright sunshine in the winter. However, it does not produce enough energy to melt the snow.

Also, where do you get the electricity to charge up your Chevy Volt overnight?

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:40 | 2678221 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Ok, what's the catch?  There's always a catch.  Could be something complicated, like some technical challenge that we either don't know how to solve or don't know is there yet.  Or it could be something as simple as someone has a scratch in their ass that they can just never satisfy.


I am Chumbawamba.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:47 | 2678234 malikai
malikai's picture

The catch with MSR is that if you get water in the coolant, it's reaction is quite violent. Also, if you shut it down for a long time, the coolant solidifies and then you got another set of problems to worry about.

The catch with breeders is that they are very touchy and require precise control over all environmental variables within the reactor.

The catch with LFRs is quite limited. It's actually a very solid design.

The thing about LFRs and MSRs is that they are passively safe. Shut an LFR down and the decay heat gets used up in convection of the coolant, until it gets cold enough to solidify. Shut an MSR down, and all you need to do is pull the plug and drain the coolant/fuel solution into the storage tanks. The storage tanks can be passively cooled.

Of course, the devil is always in the details.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:02 | 2678251 e2thex
e2thex's picture

It's great technology.   It has reached the point where when people hear the word "reactor" they hear nothing more.

This really is a viable SUBSTITUTION for what is on the table now.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:10 | 2678262 malikai
malikai's picture

Too much disinfo after Fukushima. It really sucks because it's going to cost us all in the decades that come.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:39 | 2678480 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Americans make me laugh. They think that there is such a thing as "a free lunch". Sorry folks. Go back to watching your TV programs and brainwashing. If you have not figured it out by now, you are not ever going to. "Radiation is Freedom" and all that bullshit...

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:30 | 2678838 Acorn10012
Acorn10012's picture

And socialists make me want to get my gun. Doesn't really advance the argument though...does it?

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 01:48 | 2679072 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

"And socialists make me want to get my gun."

Welcome to the internet, run on socialism since 1983. ...better grab your gun. 

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 11:16 | 2679373 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Protip: Don safety goggles before shooting computer.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:40 | 2678616 Triggernometry
Triggernometry's picture

Thanks for succintly hitting the main points behind MSR/LFR designs. Unfortunately both technologies present an unbearable challenge to the established uranium infrastructure/industry, and I simply don't see a way to punch through the steep wall of lobby dollars at this time. I believe it will take another Fukushima on US soil to turn the tide. Keep an eye on Oyster Creek, NJ, the oldest plant in the US, designed to operate 40 years but now being pushed another 20. Indian Point, NY, is a real threat as well- rated the most at risk due to it proximity to NYC, while sitting in a fault zone with no integrated earthquake resistant features whatsoever.

Great resources for education and current news:

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 11:24 | 2679383 patb
patb's picture

fluorine is toxic and forms a terrific acid with water.


a LFR reactor is just silly.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:51 | 2678237 Whoa Dammit
Whoa Dammit's picture

"Thorium cannot in itself power a reactor; unlike natural uranium, it does not contain enough fissile material to initiate a nuclear chain reaction. As a result it must first be bombarded with neutrons to produce the highly radioactive isotope uranium-233 – 'so these are really U-233 reactors,' says Karamoskos.

This isotope is more hazardous than the U-235 used in conventional reactors, he adds, because it produces U-232 as a side effect (half life: 160,000 years), on top of familiar fission by-products such as technetium-99 (half life: up to 300,000 years) and iodine-129 (half life: 15.7 million years).Add in actinides such as protactinium-231 (half life: 33,000 years) and it soon becomes apparent that thorium's superficial cleanliness will still depend on digging some pretty deep holes to bury the highly radioactive waste."

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:55 | 2678242 malikai
malikai's picture

What that article fails to mention is that actinides and even some of the fission products produced in an MSR for example can be put back into the reactor for further burning. IIRC the only waste that should leave an MSR are the neutron absorbing poisons like Xe-133.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 14:28 | 2679824 Reptil
Reptil's picture

It still produces radioactive waste that we have yet to find a solution for.

Please see my other post for a REAL WORLD solution? (cheap solar)

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:19 | 2678275 hoos bin pharteen
hoos bin pharteen's picture

The US government, "big oil," etc. isn't "suppressing" thorium power.  In fact, there's a company called Lightbridge (LTBR) that is doing a lot of innovation in this area, as well as improved fuel rod designs for traditional nukes.  If you look at their home address, it's in defense complex central, and their management team appears to be deeply connected.  

A good thorium design still requires some fissile uranium, and it is important to remember this is all in the experimental/trial phases.  Bitchez.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:28 | 2678466 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Zero radiation is an acceptable amount of radiation. Any more than that is not acceptable. Why, so fat lazy slobs can watch TV or use an electric can opener? Come fucking on...

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 17:09 | 2678528 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Your cherrypicker seems to be malfunctioning.

What about, "so innocent Middle Eastern people are no longer enslaved by Western-backed puppet governments for the purpose of maintaing the petrodollar system --- so fat lazy slobs can drive 10 cylinder pickups to their deskjobs".

Which would you prefer - Thorium or petrodollar hegemony and endless MENA violence?

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:21 | 2678743 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Not a logical arguement for creating a more radioactive world

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 14:49 | 2679870 Reptil
Reptil's picture

But it's not just petrodollars.

It's an energy revolution coming (decentralisation), and those that invested (control) both nuclear and oil are doing EVERYTHING to stop it.

It's time people realise it's not a technical issue, there ARE alternatives. It's not a choice between oil (arctic, Kazachstan or Russia) or Thorium.

It's about power over our world and the willingness to destroy it in an attempt to retain that power.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:13 | 2678589 pods
pods's picture

Seems that you are scarfing up a lot of electrons with all your posting?

But you are different, right?  Your use is warranted, unlike some lazy slob who watches TV.

Fucking hypocrite.  


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:36 | 2678609 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Well said pods.


I knew there was something evil consuming all the worlds non renewable resources. Electric can openers, does anybody actually own one?


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:25 | 2678748 engineertheeconomy
engineertheeconomy's picture

Blow me. The power for my laptop does not come from Nuclear or Petroleum

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:35 | 2678757 pods
pods's picture

And of course you are powering all the routers, switches, etc from one of the maybe one or TWO houses you may own to all our computers across the globe.

I have no problem with what you are doing, and being off the grid is something that everyone should strive for.

I only have the problem with the holier than thou attitude that must come from being independent of the modern electric grid.

Or that achieving that status somehow allows one to overlook how you got there.

You can generate your own power for personal use, but the equipment that got you there sure as hell depended on other resources.


Sun, 08/05/2012 - 00:40 | 2679032 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Shh, if you point out the entire world he or she lives in requires "dirty energy" to continue it's existance it might shatter the whole premise of being a bourgeois hippy. Then we will get bolded and italicized (off topic) resposes.

He probably also doesnt realise that he has more capital on feet (e.g. Birk's) than billions in the world make in a day, a week, or even a month. You know, the ones that are going to install solar panels to thow off the yoke of oppressive governments.



Mon, 08/06/2012 - 10:04 | 2681497 Tunga
Tunga's picture

You didn't make that electricity...


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:53 | 2678320 spdrdr
spdrdr's picture


One word - Lithium.

Lithium ion batteries will be required for mobility, indeed for any external to grid usage.  Big Oil needs to own all the Lithium, and they do not at present.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:39 | 2678615 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Thankfully there is a lot of research into new battery technology. Nickel/Iron with a twist of graphene (carbon). It doesn't have to be lithium.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:20 | 2678359 Miss Expectations
Miss Expectations's picture

You need to become a premium member to find out...

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:53 | 2678415 HedgeHammer
HedgeHammer's picture

The catch is that thorium reactors don't produce any kind of nuclear weapons grade material for the gov boys and their toys that go BOOM. Thats the reason the Thorium reactors were scrapped nperiod.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:41 | 2678621 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Congratulations for demonstrating your reading comprehension of this article.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:26 | 2678599 duo
duo's picture

massive amounts of HF, otherwise known as Hydrofluoric acid.  The only acid that can dissovle glass.  You don't want to be around if any of this stuff gets loose (ask anyone in the semiconductor industry).

On the plus side, nearly instant death to those nearby if the plant explodes, vs. a slow death by radiation or cancer with Uranium reactors.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 20:43 | 2680531 DCFusor
DCFusor's picture

Late to the party here, but I'm actually a nuclear physicist.  Th power is do-able, for certain, and it would solve a waste problem with rare earth refining - the waste is thorium ore.

But without even reading the fine article - nope, thorium 232 must be bred into U 233 to fission it - and that is one of the *better* bomb making materials.  Better than U 235, nearly as good as Pu-239.

He's also ignoring the reason we only use 1% or so of the U we use.  It's because nasty byproducts build up in the fuel, and we are too politically correct and to just plain wussie to re-refine it.  So we "store it".  The hot stuff we worry about from say, Fukishima, is largely these waste products, that are themselves so "hot" - both radioactively and thermally, you can't come close, are also produced just as much if thorium were used.  In other words, thorium doesn't solve any problem whatever, if we want to breed fuel, we have U 238 in so much abundance we used it for bullets for awhile, gheez.

India is leading the way here, and I wish them luck.  But you'll have to reprocess fuel, which is a hazard all by itself (though not one that's impossible to overcome) and yes, you'll see a point in that process where weapons-grade material is available, which is the stated reason we don't already reprocess uranium fuels...

Nothing new in the alt energy biz (I live off grid myself) but new shills with new concepts that won't stand 15 minutes of looking up the science behind them.  It's a bunch of crap, in other words, if you could do that, you could do it with U just as well, and we aren't - and the reasons aren't even scientific, they're political.  Reprocessing fuel in general would also solve the waste issues, by reducing waste from tons to pounds, and those pounds all short half-life stuff that wouldn't need longer term storage.  The long half life stuff goes back into the reactor for burning, or simply isn't hot enough to be a problem - there is no Scientific problem here, it's that humans aren't responsible enough and kinda know it...this is a problem for adults, but as a race, we're just pre-teens and act like it - see everything else discussed here for plenty of examples.

You can't be a pre-teen and safely handle this stuff.  You can't stop paying attention for an instant.  You dare not put it in hands that only think of profit, and run fuel past it's safe life, and ditto reactors, like the Japanese just found out.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:44 | 2678106 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

The article appears on ZH and in 2 minutes.... 2 minutes... you come up with your brilliant remark.  With an intellect such as yours, one which can absorb and ponder the concepts offered, surely you can do better than "wtf".   Oh!  I get it.  You just wanted your stupid avatar at the top spot.  Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.   Never mind.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:05 | 2678255 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture

Stinkhammer's ID was born less than 14 weeks ago.

Looks to me like another corporate/gov't agent.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:44 | 2678625 smiler03
smiler03's picture

Looks to me like yet another fucking moron. Please excuse my language.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:52 | 2678636 tenpanhandle
tenpanhandle's picture

wtf = "we the fed"?

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:28 | 2678284 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

I know, it's like he sits there patiently waiting for Tyler to post a new article, single-handedly generating all the ad revenue targets for ZH for the day as he F5's the main page, until finally one appears.  Excited, he hurriedly clicks on the comments link, confirms he is indeed the potentially first commentor, skips down to the comment box, then...he chokes.  Not being able to come up with anything profound or witty or even mildly interesting to write, he realizes time is running out, and it's either now or never!  He must put something down or else he will lose this epic opportunity.  So he closes his eyes, says a prayer, girds up, grits his teeth, and manages to squeeze out:



I am Chumbawamba.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:06 | 2678437 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

That's what I meant to say, Chumba.  Thanks for expressing it more eloquently.  Almost like a fine novella.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:08 | 2678438 Raymond K Hessel
Raymond K Hessel's picture


I was drinking while I read your post and snotted my 7&7 all over myself.

I'm still laughing.  


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 16:32 | 2678472 woolly mammoth
woolly mammoth's picture

That flowed well. So well, and accurate, it was worth reading a second time. Thanks for the laugh.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:18 | 2678172 Stackers
Stackers's picture

“If I can't slap a meter on it, then I won't fund itJ. P. Morgan

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:39 | 2678219 trebuchet
trebuchet's picture

"If you cant slap a meter on it, "I'll design and build one for you" - trebuchet

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:40 | 2678222 malikai
malikai's picture

Reminds me of the o'l "too cheap to meter" line they sold people back in the late 40s/50s.

Still waiting for the bill to read $0 with the lights on.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:38 | 2678298 OpenThePodBayDoorHAL
OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

The best minds of the day all KNEW that the Earth was the center of the universe. Anyone who said otherwise was ridiculed.

Check out this film: several "laws of physics" being broken. Some are pure quack, but I defy you to explain some of the others using "current" knowledge and theory:

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:28 | 2678602 pods
pods's picture

I have actually spent numerous hours researching many of the "free energy" concepts.  (I dont have time to watch that doc right now) 

There will always be hucksters, but I think there is something to this.

The electrostatic concept is particularly intriguing.

See the Testatika machine that a group in Switzerland has developed.


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:49 | 2678235 bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

Aside from the important Thorium question - and whether the previous partly Thorium reactors in Germany, the USA and India can be extended to a developed cheap energy technology that will transform the world -

Re the author above, 'Kirk Sorensen, NASA-trained engineer'

He's from NASA, eh? Does he think we really went to the MOON in 1969-1972? Or was it a hoax?

We all gots to know!

Of course there's the hilarious Onion Moon Landing 'original NASA tape' with lots of vulgar language:

'Can you believe it? We are on the f-cking moon!'

A really great but lengthy summary of the 'moon landings were a hoax' argument, is by David McGowan, 'Wagging the Moondoggie' - better than it sounds - starting here:

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:44 | 2678309 booboo
booboo's picture

Go ask Buzz Aldrin but wear a helmet, a mouth guard and a cup. Oh and prepare to be abused on Youtube when they watch an 80 year old whoop yer ass.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:03 | 2678338 Oh regional Indian
Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:24 | 2678677 Apostate2
Apostate2's picture

I saw Elvis in Lan Kwai Fong last night!


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:36 | 2678689 pods
pods's picture

And this has ANY bearing as to the validity of the moon landing argument?


Sat, 08/04/2012 - 18:32 | 2678605 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

i've spent a few days intensively studying thorium, kirk has been spreading the gospel for a while. 

he is not, however, the only expert out there on fast neutron reactors that are meant to 'recycle' their fissable fuel. 

IF YOU LEARN about the HISTORY of the industry. the big problem is that between the self interested and misguided behavior comgin from


There is no chance anyone wants to build more advanced nuclear reactors. and they don't need to be made of thorium, they can use conventional uranium but just make sure to recycle the uranium instead of throwing most of it out as 'waste' ---which is currently what's done. 


also----future reactors can have waste heat turbines or thermo-electric generators---or hydrogen reformers that utilitize the tremendous amounts of waste heat ordinarily spent on the cooling towers. 


i can see why this appeals to ZH readers---but it's not a coverup. it's not fukushima. kinda wierd that it's here in a way.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 21:40 | 2678855 Tom Green Swedish
Tom Green Swedish's picture

All the new nuclear reactors are being designed in the USA and built in China.  This is a fact.  They are year behind the curve, France is very efficient with resuing spent fuel.  The USA doesn't even have a plan on what to do with theirs.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 17:42 | 2680205 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture



ZH investigates whatsoever effects the planet, market and mankind.  that is why it is so utterly remarkable.  ZH looks, thinks, and above all can recognize a bad idea from a good one.  this single ability is crucial to critical thinking as well as survival and success.  


thank you tylers +1

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:28 | 2678068 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

buy silver?

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:28 | 2678071 Killtruck
Killtruck's picture

Big Oil will kill every mention of it, just like the  LFT reactors that previously operated.

That said, I'd love to have a small one for my house.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:13 | 2678101 Jay Gould Esq.
Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

Excellent piece. As is always the case, at some point in the future -- when this nation's generating capacity "back" is against the wall, LFTR technology will be "prioritized" and developed...but the road to fruition and a new fleet of thorium reactors will be paved with relentless brownouts and grid failures.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:03 | 2678253 object_orient
object_orient's picture

If LFTRs are viable, you'd think Japan would be the country undertaking a Manhattan Project to get some online fast. And France to a lesser extent.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 00:50 | 2679040 CrazyCooter
CrazyCooter's picture

Japan's leaders (gov and corp) are more corrupt than the US. Ain't gonna happen until the wheels turn a bit more ... odd society, not sure how that will happen.



Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:56 | 2678127 takinthehighway
takinthehighway's picture

Have you looked into woodgas generation? If you had access to a good supply of wood, you not only could heat your home and water, but run a generator and a vehicle - and this technology is almost a century old.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:14 | 2678161 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Peak wood. Not enough Viagra on the planet.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 11:09 | 2679366 tip e. canoe
Tue, 08/07/2012 - 11:53 | 2684883 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Hmm...I never know about these things, they usually don't scale, (ROEI), but I can keep an open mind. It may not be one thing but a combination that can get us through the bottle neck.

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 11:15 | 2691181 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

There's a reason hemp / pot is called weed.

It can scale very well to many environments including containers.

Fri, 08/10/2012 - 17:45 | 2695484 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

"It may not be one thing but a combination that can get us through the bottle neck."

indeed, a good gumbo stew of polyculture permaculture

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:52 | 2678238 malikai
malikai's picture

There was a kid who thought the same thing. He collected the americium from a bunch of smoke detectors and tried to build a reactor. He never got enough to get anything critical, thankfully, because it was in his garage and he would have killed everyone nearby.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:20 | 2678272 Urban Roman
Urban Roman's picture

I think he had some old radium-dial clocks and such as well. Anything radioactive.

As for getting a critical mass, he was a bit short, since it takes (I have read) something like a billion smoke detectors to get enough. I'm not even sure what a critical mass is for Americium, but you never hear about them building weapons from that particular element.

IMNSHO, when they send in the space-suited hazmat team to "clean up" a mess like that, they're just trying to justify the existence of more hazmat teams. In normal times, they'd simply sweep up the mess and throw it in the garbage.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:08 | 2678348 malikai
malikai's picture

Maybe the kid had some genious idea about getting criticality through some geometry nobody else thought of.

Probably not, but one can hope he was somehow smarter.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 20:46 | 2678772 Landrew
Landrew's picture

Look for yourself! You can't not go critical with Americium! Americium is an alpha emitter! Alpha while in your body is very dangerous, outside the body the alpha produced is shielded with anything the density of paper! Come on gravity exists, if we can't agree that science is real and can be measured why have the discussion.

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 11:13 | 2691170 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Russia IS big oil and Russia is seeking thorium reactors.

Looks like the Saudis will flat out not matter anymore.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:29 | 2678072 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture

That diagram looks like JP Morgan to me.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:47 | 2678112 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Just the CIO division.  You remember that one, just for hedging. 

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:00 | 2678133 derek_vineyard
derek_vineyard's picture

so, the worlds energy problems can be solved using the jp morgan model?

jamie dimon is truly a super hero  (robo and mdb were right)

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:13 | 2678159 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Sure.  BillyBonzai and  I have full faith in JPM to carry this thing.   They're just trying to figger out how to collateralize it and produce a muppet-friendly offering.   Conceal thyself and observe (hide and watch).

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:29 | 2678073 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

Here's a version I prefer, hours and hours of Google Tech Talks condensed into 15 minutes or so:


basically the waste reprocessing industry has a lobby.

there are other reasons it's not feasible yet, mainly that it wasn't weaponizable so nobody bothered researching it.

It is a technology we could give to Iran, but it would be completely uninteresting to them because at no stage in the process is there any material you can use to develop nuclear weapons. Poor Iran :( :( :(

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:46 | 2678108 saturn
saturn's picture

Wait, did the US already dismantle all their nuclear arsenal? And wait more, would you really give Iran the technology? I think you would not. You would want to sell it. And wait for the third time, how the hell can you know they would not be interested? There is a lot of Cognitive Dissonance in your comment.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:10 | 2678153 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

No, I'm down here. But thanks for thinking of me.

This type of reactor will not be allowed to move beyond germination simply because the oil industry backs the global reserve currency (aka the dollar) and vice versa.

Control of the masses is the name of the game. Cheaper less complicated energy frees the masses. Thus it was, and will remain, stillborn.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:17 | 2678169 dick cheneys ghost
dick cheneys ghost's picture

Time to end the Petro Dollar

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:17 | 2678170 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Concealed, yes, but spring-coiled and waiting for the right moment to emerge.  Don't think that TPTB (and I'm talking about a different kind of "power" here) don't have working models ready for mass manufacture.  Sorta like those edicts and presidential orders that suddenly sprang up, fully developed and written, immediately after 911.   Boy, they sure do quick work!

Now, if we could get the goofy bastards that are privately financing moon-shots and space tourist trips to focus where the NEEDS are... ah, never mind.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:25 | 2678187 malikai
malikai's picture

Nearly all development in thorium reactors is going on in India and China right now. Both of these countries are also actively seeking an alternative to the U$D. Also, India is the Saudi Arabia of thorium, with I believe Canada or Russia to be in second place in terms of recoverable reserves.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:37 | 2678195 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

China doesn't want an alternative to the USD, if they had one then they'd have to un-peg their Yuan to our dollar, which would mean the eventual end of our trade with them as it would cost too much for us to import from there. They definitely don't want that as they still haven't been able to figure out how to do something with their economy besides build widgets for the rest of the world. They have to reduce their dependence on exports before they can un-peg their currency from ours.

Which would be a good thing for us, because it would bring production back stateside again. Aside from us having to pay more for gas, what's the problem with losing reserve currency status again? Means higher stateside employment as companies will stop outsourcing everything.


Besides, a reserve currency has to have liquidity and as long as we're the largest economy, we have the most debt liquidity to sell. Aside from higher gas prices I don't see a down side.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:38 | 2678218 malikai
malikai's picture

They may not want an alternative to the USD now. But can we really say with certainty that they will feel the same way in ten/twenty years?

What is the breakdown of China's treasury holdings? Are they concentrated on the short end or the long end of the curve? Do they have a good round bunch of bills balanced across the whole curve?

The answer is not in what we say, but what we do.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:02 | 2678249 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

Aim low, guys, 'cause, yeah, China's not ambitious at all.

Let's look at the simple big picture: China wants their RMB to be the world reserve currency, just as they want to replace, with themselves, everything else about America's superpower status.

Sun, 08/05/2012 - 04:42 | 2679136 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

right, and this is why china is not only stock piling gold, also the world biggest producer, but hong kong exchange just bought the LME last month . yea, the london metals exchange is being sold to hong kong exchange. 

maybe that doesn't mean anything on the surface. but i dno't think the chinese are paying 1.4 billion for absolutely nothing. maybe i'm wrong and they're just getting hugely suckered. 

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:49 | 2678236 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

I think a more accurate statement would be that the US doesn't want anybody to have an alternative to the USD.

It's the combination of Reserve Currency status and a massive nuclear arsenal to back it up that keeps the US in the global driver seat...For now.

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 11:10 | 2691151 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

You are in error. The agreements to use only yuan-yen and yuan-ruble trades has already established the alternate to the dollar along with massive gold intakes.

Pay attention, please.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:47 | 2678404 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Practically everywhere is the Saudi Arabia of thorium.  India is the Titan of thorium.

Lots of energy.  LOTS.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:15 | 2678164 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

Hmm what?

You can't weaponize liquid thorium reactors. The US preferred weaponizable power tech as a matter of national security. That's why we never bothered coming up with actual thorium reactor implementations. Now that the cold war is over, support for LFTR is growing but there's still the waste reprocessing lobby to overcome.


"Giving" Iran a design would serve as calling their bluff that they're only interested in nuclear power for peaceful purposes only.

We already know that they're not interested in nuclear power for peaceful purposes because they're not willing to use 20% refined uranium-based reactors. You need >80% refinement of u235-u238 mixture to be "weapons grade" at which point you make it into a sphere ~7 inches in diameter, fire another chunk of u235 into it, and you have an nuclear weapon.

This is why we don't want Iran to continue their cetrifuge work, because it's trivial to re-orient the centrifuges into a cascade pipeline for refining weapons grade uranium. This is why they need to give us unfettered access in order for us to take them seriously, and why we/Israel designed and deployed the Stuxnet virus.

Basically, giving them a Thorium reactor design as a "gesture of peace" would mean they would have no reason to continue their Uranium refinement if they truly are only interested in peaceful nuclear power. Then two years later, when they're still running their centrifuges, the UN would have no choice but to impose harsh economic sanctions until they gave up their Uranium research and implement the peaceful LFTR. Right now they claim they don't have an alternative and that "this is the only way they can have nuclear power". This would call their bluff and bring their lies and deceit into the light.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:23 | 2678182 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

There is another way to look at the scenario you present:  The U S, et al, are not providing thorium power to Iran purposely so that they are forced to develop uranium based sources instead --  how else will be have the excuse to obliterate them?  Your coin has two sides.

Assuming the U S has all that is needed to move to thorium, why should we?  It's not desperately needed -- yet -- and our nuclear dominance would be threatened, all the peacenik talk aside.   Doing good and providing cheap power is not in our best interests. 

I disagree with the second paragraph philosophically, but not realistically.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:29 | 2678192 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

We haven't researched it much until just recently because it wasn't weaponizable so I would argue that we don't exactly have the designs to give to them.

Not that we have to, there's nothing complicated about it, Iran could do it themselves if they wanted to.

Only problem is it doesn't fit with their "Zionist regime" rhetoric and if they want to continue publicly announcing that they're going to wipe Israel off the face of the map then they need to have a means of doing that-- and Thorium won't help you there.


However, you raise an interesting point.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 19:11 | 2678657 smiler03
smiler03's picture

  "continue publicly announcing that they're going to wipe Israel off the face of the map"


I think what you meant to say was that

1) Just once, 2) in 2005, 3) The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, once said something that was badly translated into English as "wipe Israel off the face of the map"

A small point but a very important one. 

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 09:49 | 2690776 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

You are in error. Ahmedinejad actually said the REGIME (people leading) Israel should be removed from the pages of HISTORY. That's not a map that's a time-line. That's not a country, that's the corrupt leaders.

I fully agree.

While we're at it let's throw in all the banksters and corrupt regimes of Canada (Prime Sinister), USA (corrupt Pres & most of the Senate & congresscritters), Russia and then some. And let's not forget to throw in Ahmedinejad himself.

I think that will fix quite a lot.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:52 | 2678240 jonjon831983
jonjon831983's picture

"We already know that they're not interested in nuclear power for peaceful purposes because they're not willing to use 20% refined uranium-based reactors. You need >80% refinement of u235-u238 mixture to be "weapons grade" at which point you make it into a sphere ~7 inches in diameter, fire another chunk of u235 into it, and you have an nuclear weapon."


Wow gun type fission... old school.  Thought nowadays we wrap the core with explosives.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:13 | 2678264 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

We do by necessity with plutonium, not sure about uranium...

Iran would just do whatever is easiest....just pointing out that it's not difficult at all if you have the materials.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:20 | 2678260 malikai
malikai's picture

Whether Iran wants a nuclear weapon or not is irrelevant. There will be no "gesture of peace" because peace is not the goal.

The goal is complete military supremacy over the arab region and containment of China. Iran having a nuke is a nice pretext for that.

Also, if Iran had a nuke, sitting on top of a IRBM, we could be sure that nobody would ever attack them, not even Israel. And of course, Iran would never attack anyone either. It would lead to Detente, which is completely unacceptable to Israel.

For example, look at India and Pakistan.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:22 | 2678361 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

hm, interesting....

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:11 | 2678352 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Or  could it be that Iran worries about Uncle Sam liberating all that

oil.I wonder whay they think that ?

If I was sitting in Tehran as a leader,I for sure as hell would want nukes.

To do otherwise would be Sadam,Gaddaffi etc.

The world hates us for our Govt.,we have no freedom to hate anymore.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 15:22 | 2678363 soccerballtux
soccerballtux's picture

hm that's also an interesting endgame...

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 09:31 | 2690701 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

We can weaponize anything, even tar & feathers, so let's not be ignorant.

You can't make a thermonuclear explosive without plutonium or uranium. You can get SOME uranium from the thorium reactor but it will be a suicide-mission causing far more damage than if a common reactor is used. You can get other toxins out of the thorium reactor, which can be a weapon, at huge cost to yourself. It will likely kill whoever tries to do it even if it works.

It's good to be a little more clear.

Iran like any nation has a RIGHT to nuclear WEAPONS. I fully support it - because the only reason for Iran to have none is if NO ONE ELSE HAS ANY EITHER.

The hypocritcal nations, including my own, holding / using nuclear weapons and training to attack with them have no right to tell others they can't have them. People with guns have no right to decide that everywhere around the world those without guns can't ever get one. They will get one if they want and that's too fucking bad.

Once upon a time this is what we called "Freedom" where you do NOT have dominion over the choices, resources & defense of everyone else.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 13:12 | 2678157 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

There's only one country in the middle east with nuclear weapons...and it ain't Iran.

Iran is NOT the problem or concern.

Sat, 08/04/2012 - 14:06 | 2678258 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

"There's only one country in the middle east with nuclear weapons...and it ain't Iran." (my emphasis)

Right, it's that new, recently merged country, PakIsrealistan?

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