Why Hillary Clinton Should Have Liquid Floride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) as Part of Her Campaign Platform
All nuclear reactors are not created equally. Current Light Water Reactors (LWRs) operate under high pressure requiring massive containment domes in the event of released pressure. LWRs require human interaction in the case of power failure. They also create waste that requires tens of thousands of years to stabilize. They need to be shut down to refuel.
Liquid Floride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs, pronounced “lifter”) operate under normal pressure, utilize a common element available throughout the world (the US has a large stockpile already), is more efficient than a LWR, and the waste from the LFTR cannot be made into a weapon grade material. The waste has a half-life of 30 years so waste material stabilizes in a century or two as compared to tens of thousands of years. Note that this is not a theoretical technology. This is sound, well demonstrated technology with 20,000 hours of operation in the late 1960's. LFTRs also are made to automatically shut down without human intervention in the case of a problem.
Why are LFTRs not already the main power choice if they are so great? The answer lies primarily in the political and regulatory environment over the past forty years. This is the reason I believe it should be a part of Hillary’s platform. While it is obvious that a clean, carbon-free source of energy would be a great contribution to America, there are many other ramification behind the advancement of LFTRs.
Component for LFTRS can be mass-produced, delivered to new or existing utility sites and assembled. Imagine how that could help communities, such as Detroit, to have a novel manufacturing opportunity. The licensing, siting, and assembling of LFTRs would create jobs. The energy LFTRs create is cheaper than energy produced by coal. If the savings is passed along to the consumers, they would have more money to spend on other things, invigorating the entire economy. This impact would affect those with less money than those who have more as they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on home energy than the rich.
Energy has the power to lift people from poverty
Having a large number of LFTRs spread around the country would help the US become less dependent on other countries for energy supplies. LFTRs can produce (again, through proven technology) liquid fuels that are replacements for gasoline and diesel fuel by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. Through the same process they can produce ammonia for agriculture. It would also decrease the need for a huge power grid that could be the target of cyber attacks. Since LFTRs do not produce any waste that could be enriched into a weapons grade material, the threat of stolen material diminishes greatly.
Manufacturing and assembling LFTRs will require additional carbon to be released into the atmosphere. However, once completed LFTRs are carbon-free sources of energy. Applications should as the fuel replacement technology mentioned above will decrease temporally the carbon the air, but once used as fuel the carbon is balanced rather than increased from burning fossil fuel. LFTRs waste heat could also be used to desalinate water producing clean water for cities. LFTRs are so efficient that 6,600 tonnes of thorium could replace 5 billion tonnes of coal, 31 billion barrels of oil, 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, AND 65,000 tonnes of uranium. Because of their construction LFTRs are air cooled and so do not need to positioned near bodies of water such as existing technology LWRs. Also, if LFTRs are deployed around the country the need for long transmission lines diminishes as well.
Hillary needs other planks in her platform to be successful. Issues such as education, immigration, healthcare, and the infrastructure of our bridges, roads, and ports are vitally important. I would urge her to consider including the political will to create regulations, licensing and approval of Liquid Floride Thorium Reactors to her agenda. We need the energy independence, and we need the other benefits that LFTRs can provide.
I would like to thank Kirk Sorensen at www.energyfromthorium.com for opening my eyes about thorium reactors.