In our last article, we spoke about how nuclear energy could be our savior. But, what if nuclear energy could be made even cheaper, safer, and better? In 1950 Indian Nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha proposed Thorium as being a viable replacement for nuclear reactors instead of uranium and plutonium.
Thorium is four times as abundant as uranium and is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope. After World War 2 a molten salt reactor which used Thorium as a fuel was created by the United States government at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. And it successfully generated electricity between 1965 to 1969. Moreover, it’s very difficult to make bombs using Thorium. Not only that, Thorium also produces much less nuclear waste and it can directly be used in the natural state. It does not need to be enriched. It get’s even better. Another reactor design known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor has a unique design that it’s proponents claim is meltdown proof.
It all feels too good to believe. But, like everything in life, Thorium isn’t short of it’s detractors. Some argue that because Thorium is still highly experimental and not yet been put to consumer use, it many not be all that it’s proclaimed to be. But, I guess the only way to find out is by putting it to use. Getting it out to consumers and producing energy for them. And that’s exactly what India is doing right now. India is sitting on one of the largest natural reserves of Thorium and have pledged to meet 30 % of their energy demands using Thorium by 2050. Many other countries are currently looking into Thorium based nuclear reactors, but India is the only country that has a well-thought out, government approved and funded plan to ramp up Thorium based energy production. India plans to operate 60 Thorium based nuclear reactors by 2025.