Traditional nuclear power plants are pressure vessels that use water to cool highly radioactive uranium rods. As we all know, this is a dangerous energy technology. Unfortunately, nuclear energy alternatives are rare. However, thorium based reactors may hold the key to safe and abundant nuclear energy.
Current nuclear power plants are highly energy inefficient and dangerous. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius under normal pressure. That’s not hot enough to generate electricity effectively. Therefore, water cooled nuclear reactors have to run a very high pressures to increase the water boiling point. If pressure is lost, water will be lost and soon the uranium fuel will melt down, releasing the radioactive fission products within it. The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is an attractive alternative to water cooled uranium plants. Such reactors don’t operate at high pressures. Furthermore, the LFTR is based on fluoride salts that are already melted. Thorium is a naturally occurring nuclear fuel that is four times more common than uranium. It is also 200x more efficient than uranium in generating electricity.