Why Buy Thorium?

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Thorium is a radioactive metal named for the Norse god of thunder, and it’s a possible energy alternative to uranium. Discovered in 1828 by Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, thorium is only slightly radioactive, but it must be combined with fissile material — such as uranium-233 or U-235 — to sustain a nuclear reaction for power generation.

A thorium-based fuel cycle significantly lowers the amount of waste that is produced; it also significantly reduces radioactively decaying elements that remain in the reactor after a chain reaction is completed. When used with enriched uranium, for example, thorium can help to reduce the waste by 95%, according to University of Oslo researchers.

The element is primarily mined from thorite (ThSiO4), thorianite (ThO2) and monazite (Ce, La, Nd, Y)PO4. It’s also found in some sand and seawater.

It’s a chemically reactive metal that “rusts” easily in air. It’s also a very radioactive metal, making it difficult to isolate for commercial use.

Despite all that, it’s being explored as a possible alternative to uranium for electricity generators and marine vehicles. In the United States, a handful of accelerator-driven thorium reactors have been tested, led by Norwegian company Flibe Energy.

They can’t compete with the power output of current nuclear reactors, but they could be the key to a more sustainable future. And they could be safer for human life as well, since thorium does not emit any radiation during the process of producing power.