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Power

One of the books I’m reading right now is Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. I just finished the section where he makes the case for nuclear power. I’ve said for years that the only existing off-the-shelf technology that can meet our power needs is nuclear. And nuclear is the one technology that the environmentalists can not stand.

Well, it turns out that there might be a slightly beyond off-the-shelf tech that I had never heard of before. It’s thorium and molten salt reactors.

There’s plenty on YouTube. And quite a few papers and web pages.

Now I am not an engineer and all I’ve done on the subject is a few back-of-the-envelope figures. But Stars Above and Earth Below, why don’t we know about this?

Thorium is much, much, much more abundant than uranium. In fact, sifting out and disposing of thorium in rare earth mining is a major cost.

We can use thorium much more efficiently. It’s harder to weaponize the by-products. It’s easier to deal with the waste.

And because the reactor is not a pressure vessel like a liquid cooled uranium reactor, it’s cheaper to build, safer to run, and easer to shut down if there is a problem.

This is the first type of power plant that I would tell the Navajo to build on the rez. Or New Yorkers to build in Manhattan.

All it takes is the development costs. Then this tech is going to save the world.

As long as we keep government out of the way.

Addendum: It turns out that the Federal government is rather intimately involved with the financing of nuclear plants in this country and has been for decades.

It also turns out that the U.S. Navy underwrote much of the development costs for a water-cooled reactor because it’s what they needed for submarines. We’re not sure that’s the best answer for a land based reactor.

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