Sunday, April 10, 2011

China launches thorium reactor development program

Source: Wired Science

China has officially announced it will launch a program to develop a thorium-fueled molten-salt nuclear reactor, taking a crucial step towards shifting to nuclear power as a primary energy source.

The project was unveiled at the annual Chinese Academy of Sciences conference in Shanghai last week, and reported in the Wen Hui Bao newspaper (Google English translation here).

If the reactor works as planned, China may fulfill a long-delayed dream of clean nuclear energy. The United States could conceivably become dependent on China for next-generation nuclear technology. At the least, the United States could fall dramatically behind in developing green energy.

“President Obama talked about a Sputnik-type call to action in his SOTU address,” wrote Charles Hart, a a retired semiconductor researcher and frequent commenter on the Energy From Thorium discussion forum. “I think this qualifies.” ...

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  1. "President Obama talked about a Sputnik-type call"

    Sadly, President Obama is no Kennedy.

    He spends enough to fund a dozen Apollo projects every year, but nothing is achieved.

  2. This could be a really cool development. It would appear much safer, though I'm not sold on nuclear energy currently.

    Sputnik moments are hard to come by while concentrating on looting and and handing over the booty to the money changers.

    "Low Plains Perspective"

  3. "but nothing is achieved"

    Well not exactly true. Refinancing bankers at the cost of gigantic deficits -- funded in large part by by money printing -- will drive down the dollar or induced massive inflation in China and other countries that export to the US.

    Either way, US imports will cost more, driving down both the purchasing power of the dollar and US living standards.

    Another consequence is that the corporations that are ruining American workers by off-shoring jobs can borrow dollars at dirt cheap rates to invest abroad and then pay back with profits earned in strengthening Asian currencies. A case of being paid to borrow.

    That's what globalization is all about. Free movement of goods, capital and people, which means equalization of wages globally. Those who understand the process and act accordingly will greatly increase their wealth relative to that of widows and orphans trying to get by on a few saved dollars earning 1% at the bank.

  4. "I'm not sold on nuclear energy currently"

    The future looks decidedly grim. The NIMBY effect will now be very strong. Thank goodness the decision was made here in British Columbia many years ago to eschew nuclear power, and the decision still holds.

    Although there are said to be 2300 nuke warheads just across the water from Vancouver Island at the Kitsap naval base, 20 miles west of Seattle. If something goes wrong there -- Ka-BOOM.

  5. Better than a new nuke research program might be a few hundred billion for energy conservation research. I think that could pay real dividends. The average North American home heating system is just a device for heating the outdoors. And an automobile has to be just the most inefficient means of getting people around cities at around 8 miles an hour -- but I said that before.

    What we need is the bionic horse: carbon fibre reinforced plastic body and a lithium ion battery pack, capable of a 50 mile canter on a pennyworth of power.

  6. "The average North American home heating system is just a device for heating the outdoors."

    I know it's sad, but the way you phrased it just cracked me up. Need that now and again.

    I'm not a NIMBY person. If I use it, put in my back yard. We've got a Nuclear plant, Wolf Creek, 20 miles away (not a Mark I). I'm not sold on nuclear but I use it...

    The replacement plant should reflect the improvement in technology we've scene in the last 30 years. Be that thorium, solar panels, or mirrors and turbine. The Ogallala Reservoir running dry will soon open up a lot of land to new uses in the low plains.

    The Galveston National Laboratory will be down the road 60 miles in the opposite direction in Manhattan Kansas. Replacing Plum Island biohazard facility. That's a mofo...

    "energy conservation research" is the wave of the future. PBS ran a show on some dude that changed all the windows in the Empire State Building in Manhattan (that's NY not to be confused with Kansas). Definitely a field to consider as the saving are tremendous.

    I insulated my last house and replaced the windows and put in an on-demand water unit and cut my utilities bills to 1/3 (2008 when fuel prices soared). I'm a water hog so I'll always chose to live where it is plentiful.

    "Low Plains Perspective"

  7. "Those who understand the process and act accordingly will greatly increase their wealth relative to that of widows and orphans".

    Unfortunately, most people do not believe you and are waiting for things to change back to post WWII era. Because that is what they want to hear and it is reinforced by mass money media.

    Wages, globally, moving towards equilibrium seemed inevitable as well as living standards. Your assessment of what this means for the cost of goods and wages is accurate.

    The money changers will be working overtime to find a patsy to blame so that the anger is not directed towards them. Perhaps a war?

    "Low Plains Perspective"

  8. "energy conservation research" is the wave of the future.

    A big part of conserving energy could be by doing, not "more with less," but just less.

    Getting rid of the suburbs and exurbs would not only save a stupendous amount of energy, steel and blacktop, it would, by eliminating the throbbing arteries of traffic hauling commuters by the million, make urban life vastly more attractive.

  9. The money changers will be working overtime to find a patsy to blame so that the anger is not directed towards them.

    You think?

    What can the people do?

    The US looks in many ways like Germany in the late 30s. A single financial elite controls both parties, just as the German business cartels controlled the Nazis -- until they didn't.

    And if anyone wants to make trouble, they can be put away as an enemy alien in one of those concentr... Halliburton detention centers.

  10. "What can the people do? "

    What you are doing! Trying to spread information to alert folks as to what's going on.

    I suppose going postal is another option or get a pschobotomy so you become a psychopath (If you can't beat them...)

  11. Yes, I suppose one should always try to be constructive, or failing that, destructive -- mere hand-wringing achieves nothing.

    But yesterday was difficult. My computer was taken over by a piece of psychopathic code that demanded I pay ransom to regain control. After some hand-wringing, I took the machine to a techie, who charged more than the scammers demanded to fix the problem. Well I just hope he didn't fix it by paying the scammers, and charging me his commission as an intermediary.

  12. "Yes, I suppose one should always try to be constructive"

    You don't always have to be constructive. It's good to go get pissed every now and again. Dang-ol TubThumping: