Andrew Yang Wants a Thorium Reactor By 2027 - GO Tech Daily
An anonymous reader cites a Wired report: To switch the United States from fossil fuels to green energy, [Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang] the government wants to invest $ 50 billion in the development of thorium molten salt nuclear reactors - and he wants to 2027 on the grid. "Nuclear is not a perfect solution, but it is a solid solution for now," said Yang & # 39; s climate policy page. In particular, it calls thorium-molten salt reactors as "a technology in which we must invest as a stopover for any shortages that we have in our renewable energy sources as we move towards a future powered by renewable energy."
Thorium molten salt reactors were first invented 60 years ago, but Yang appears to be the first presidential candidate to campaign for their promise to make nuclear energy safer, cleaner and cheaper. Like all molten salt reactors, they shun solid rods of uranium-235 in favor of a liquid fuel made from thorium and a small amount of uranium dissolved in a molten salt. This approach to nuclear energy reduces the risk of proliferation, produces minimal amounts of short-lived toxic waste and is resistant to nuclear melts. Just like in a conventional nuclear reactor, splitting the nuclei of a nuclear fuel - a process known as fission - produces heat, which is used to run a turbine to generate electricity. But the Cold War arms race meant that the US was already enriching uranium for weapons, so solid uranium-based nuclear reactors started while liquid reactors held on. No country has built a commercial melt-salt reactor. As a result, many practical questions remain about the best way to design a thorium-liquid fuel reactor. The most important among them, says Lin-Wen Hu, director of research and irradiation at the MIT nuclear reactor laboratory, finds materials that can contain the corrosive molten salts. Moreover, it remains a major technical challenge to find out how unwanted elements produced as thorium decay, such as protactinium-233, can be extracted. "The main advantage of thorium is that the waste has a half-life of the order of tens, rather than thousands," the report adds. "From the point of view of electricity generation, the better option for Yang and other Democratic candidates might be to invest in advanced uranium-based technologies. This includes molten salt reactors, but also solid fuel systems such as the next generation of fast reactors, which are safer and more efficient than previous ones designs of nuclear reactors. In some designs, next generation reactors can even use existing nuclear waste as fuel. "
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