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31 Oct, 2011 21:41

Thorium - the safer nuclear power?

Solar, wind, and biomass have been touted as viable alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. But what if there is a nuclear energy source that is safe, green, and abundant? Thorium could be that source.

Lightbridge, based in Virginia, is now testing this next generation nuclear fuel in Russia.“It dramatically reduces the amount of waste in the reactor, reduces the toxicity of the waste coming out of the reactor, and doesn't produce any weapons usable materials,” says Seth Grae, president and CEO of Lightbridge.It’s estimated that Thorium is three times more abundant than uranium, the element currently used in nuclear plants.Scientists say there is so much of it, that it can produce energy than all of the world’s oil, coal, and uranium combined. Sounds like the alternative energy source the world needs. But despite its advantages, nuclear experts say politics and corporate interests may be getting in the way.“That doesn't mean that it's going to be picked up by the utilities and implemented.They're going to look at the economics and not the environmental benefits,” says Thomas Cochran, Director attheNatural Resources Defense Council.Cochran says the U.S. needs to change its energy policies in order to make Thorium more attractive to businesses.“They would have to have a different fee structure than the current one to encourage the development of thorium fuels,” Chochran says.President Obama has vowed to transition the nation to alternative energy. With testing underway in Russia, China, and India, the United States may lose the race and find itself behind the curve when it comes to energy innovation and the jobs it may create.“I think in the coming years, you'll start to see more testing, more results, and more industry interests. But I think most of the industry interest in using Thorium in reactors is from outside the U.S.,” says Grae.