Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

nuclear-thoriumIf Barack Obama were to marshal America’s vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin. History will move on fast.

Muddling on with the status quo is not a grown-up policy. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (£16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West.

There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Read the rest at the London Telegraph.

47 Responses to Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

  1. Lone Wolf September 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Dan, Thank you for printing this article.

  2. Lone Wolf September 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Let the vetting begin

  3. NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 10, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Lupus Singularis! Where’ve you been? Nice to see you back!
    I have been trying to do some research on this thorim fuel business. I have to admit that it is all way over my head. However, there are a few things that bother me about this story. Mainly, the author seems to accept the premise that there is a “scramble” for “scarce fuel”.

    “The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West.”

    It is? Really? Huh. So, the friction between China, India, and the West has nothing to do with ideological, cultural, or phlosophical differences? If fuels were abundant, and redily available we would all be holding hands, singing cum-by-ah? I doubt that. I also do not believe that there is a scarcity of fuel, i.e. peak oil.
    The other thing I have trouble with is the assertion that thorium was not persued because you can’t make nuclear bombs from it. That just does not make any sense to me. Think about it. If civilian, electricity producing nuclear power plants, which do not produce atomic bomb fuel anyway, were run on thorium, would that not leave a greater amount of uranium for the reactors that do produce atomic bomb fuel?
    I don’t know a lot about this subject, but I suspect there are more obstacles to this than what we’re being told there are.

  4. Lone Wolf September 10, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Hello all,
    Thanks Neil,
    I’ve been around, but have more been, I guess. I have been enjoying our victory over the greatest hoax ever. We’ve won the debate, but still must drive a stake through the heart of the evil beast.

    Although we’ve won, we’re still seeing worhtless wind turbins being installed with money stolen from their neighbors. This HAS GOT TO STOP. An alternate energy source that actually works would be the best way to kill the beast.

    The article below is from a respected correspondent who is advocating for nuclear energy. I will do what I can to help get his message out. Thorium seems to be one good fit for what he is advocating. France has already proven what he is saying.
    This blog and others could play a major role in the future by expanding to include articles like the following.

    Dr. Edwin X Berry and MG Paul E. Vallely

    Several of my subscribers have asked why I support nuclear power. Basically, I support nuclear power because, as a physicist, I am aware of its significant advantages and minimal disadvantages.

    America needs abundant, low-cost, reliable energy. America’s enemies – The Sierra Club, their likes, our politicians, and our duped university ecologists – have ganged up on America to propagate myths that turn us against the very resources we need to survive.

    These groups began by stopping nuclear power 40 years ago and by stopping coal and oil production 30 years ago. America’s economy is presently crashing largely because they, our enemy, have been successful in de-energizing America. They want our energizer bunny to stop beating.

    Thermodynamics is powerful physics. It tells us that the more compact our energy source, the higher the energy quality. We can make better use of compact energy than disperse energy. Wind, solar and bio-fuels are disperse energy sources. Coal and oil are concentrated sources and we need them to power our economy.

    My principal message has been that carbon dioxide emissions will not change our climate and should not be regulated. Therefore, coal and oil energy are not climate change problems. My second message is the we should use nuclear energy.

    Nuclear energy is 3 million times more concentrated than coal and oil energy. Cost wise, nuclear competes favorably with coal. Nuclear does not need 100 railroad cars of coal per day. In the last 30 years, the average life-time costs of nuclear and coal electricity are about the same.

    Here are some facts about nuclear power that most people do not know. For more details, see the website of “Don Lutz”: http://www.truthaboutenergy.com/index.html:
    Complete article here:

  5. Lone Wolf September 10, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Critical Letter Supporting

    Nuclear Power in America
    The following letter has been sent by John Shanahan and other key nuclear power experts to John Holdren and other officials in the US Government. This letter was made public on January 12, 2010, at 4:00 PM Eastern time.

    You may download the PDF copy of this letter with all the signatures by clicking on the following link.


    Send this letter to your local news media and public officials. – Ed

    ********* Cover Letter ***************

    Dear Dr. Holdren,

    It has been about sixty years since the United States started out on its most important, long-term energy development program, nuclear power.

    For the last 30 years or more, special interest groups and people within the government have taken steps to hinder and stop nuclear power programs.

    Attached is a petition from top scientists and engineers throughout the United States and from eleven other countries asking that we proceed with streamline the licensing of Light Water Reactors, complete the development of fuel recycling in the IFR program and build some full scale prototype IFR facilities. These are the technologies with the most development efforts, operating experience and safety records.

    This petition is signed by 190 or so people from around the world. You know many very well. There are additional supporters from many walks of life. The signers of this letter come from 12 countries and within the United States from 31 states.

    The world wants nuclear power. It is important that we not delay any more, so that we can make maximum use of the experience of the people who pioneered the first fifty years of this marvelous energy source and so we don’t fall further behind other countries developing nuclear power.

    Hopefully, the Obama Administration will listen to this petition from so many outstanding scientists, engineers, leaders in industry and citizens, and act decisively on it for the benefit of the United States. If not, we certainly hope that the next administration will include major plans for the restart of our most precious energy source. Either way, this letter is a cornerstone for the effort to restart nuclear power in the United States.


    John A. Shanahan, Dr. Ing. (German Doctorate of Engineering)
    660 Detroit St.
    Denver, Colorado 80206
    Tel. 303 399 0393 303 399 0393
    E-mail: acorncreek2006@gmail.com

    ********** Signed Letter ******************

  6. Lone Wolf September 10, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    My previous post was to demonstrate some of the work that is already being done in support of nuclear energy.
    A good first step in Minnesota would be to remove the moratorium on nuclear energy and remove the mandate for alternate energy.

  7. Lone Wolf September 10, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    A good link for fast breeder reactors:


  8. NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 13, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    I hate to say it, but I’m with Rob on this one. ONLY in that I agree with him when he said this sounds too good to be true. I was researching this with a bottle of ibuprofin nearby, because it is way over my head, and I came across this: http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/thorium2009factsheet.pdf it seems to refute a lot of what is being said about thorium as a fuel. Take it or leave it, it does confirm my original thought that there are more obstacles to this than originally stated.

    • Trikor October 19, 2010 at 10:11 am #

      I hope I am not beating a dead horse with this comment…

      After reading that article, I would agree with what is written there, however what is written in that article is all in reference to using thorium in current light water reactors as an alternative to uranium. I don’t think that is a very wise idea, as thorium is less efficient in reactors built for uranium specifically. The trouble I have with the article you provided is that it does not include Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR). The LFTR reactors are designed for throium specifically and use them far more efficiently. Here is a presentation done by Mr. Sorensen (as mentioned in the original article) that tells you about the reactors that they are talking about in this page’s original article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZR0UKxNPh8 It is pretty long (1:22:09) but is actually quite entertaining if you are interested in the subject. It is aimed at a more general public audience, so you don’t need a degree to understand what is being said here.

      What I am most interested in is the reprocessing part of waste. I don’t know what or how it is done, so I can’t provide any evidence in support or against how long the waste actually decays at.

      The acquisition of thorium is also mentioned. Admittedly, I don’t know too much about that process either, but since thorium is 3 times more abundant that uranium and LFTR reactors would require 1/35 the fuel used in current reactors to produce the same amount of electricity, it would greatly cut down on strip-mining operations. Also, uranium already faces the same downfalls as acquiring thorium, so it isn’t exactly making things worse… Out of the two evils, thorium seems the better alternative.

  9. Rob N. Hood September 14, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    Hate to point this out but what has this to do with Global Warming etc.??!! I’m damn mad…!!!

    Just kidding. It’s interesting and I am not as anal as some people. Although I notice that some people don’t care as long is it’s one of their that does it. Same old thing. Now for something related to global warming:

    WASHINGTON – “Tens of thousands of walruses have come ashore in northwest Alaska because the sea ice they normally rest on has melted.”

    “Federal scientists say this massive move to shore by walruses is unusual in the United States. But it has happened at least twice before, in 2007 and 2009. In those years Arctic sea ice also was at or near record low levels.”

    “We’ll likely see more summers like this,” he said. “There is no sign of Arctic recovery.”

    • Dan McGrath September 14, 2010 at 8:38 am #

      If CO2 is the cause of global warming (which we dispute), then nuclear energy should be the energy source of choice. No CO2 emissions. Still, the greenies fight nuclear power. It’s like they want us to go back to a pre-fire era and live like apes.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      “The Alaska Fish & Game department also says that concentrations of walrus on beaches is not unusual. “Best known among the Walrus Islands is Round Island, where each summer large numbers of male walruses haul out on exposed, rocky beaches.” “Walrus return to these haulouts every spring as the ice pack recedes northward, remaining hauled out on the beach for several days between each feeding foray. Up to 14,000 walrus have been counted on Round Island in a single day. However, the number of walrus using the island fluctuates significantly from year to year.”

      Perhaps the discrepancy between the USGS and other agencies lies in the fact that the USGS has relied on satellite tracking of tagged walrus over a relatively short time frame, whereas the other agencies rely on ground and aircraft observation over much longer periods. And perhaps the fact that the feds are considering putting walrus on the endangered species list has some bearing on the alarm story from the always politically correct biological arm of the USGS. While, I suppose, one could quibble about the frequency of occupation for particular beaches, the fact that these animals occupy beaches from time to time is not at all unusual.”

      Your story is meaningless fear mongering, from a political operative masquerading as a journalist, who’s primary objective is to help the government in it’s attempt to put the Walrus on the endangered species list. Nothing more to it than that.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

      If you want to read the story Rob is talking about, here it is… in it’s entirety. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/briefs/x1423401602/Melting-sea-ice-forces-walruses-ashore-in-Alaska

  10. Rob N. Hood September 14, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Yes, Dan, you are onto us… that is exactly what we want… now what shall we do now that our ultimate plan has been revealed. Damn you sir!

  11. Rob N. Hood September 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Washington, DC — Contrary to promises to beef up prosecution of polluters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criminal enforcement program is withering under the Obama administration, according to records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The number of EPA criminal investigators has fallen below Bush administration levels as the management of the criminal enforcement program continues to lack focus.

    The EPA Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigates the most serious environmental crimes. Its investigators are armed, badge-carrying special agents who probe corporate pollution offenses. From 205 special agents in 2003, there were only 173 agents in 2010, according to EPA statistics, but this number includes vacant slots, reducing the number of actual agents down to 160, according to a hand count of the latest agent directory.

  12. paul wenum September 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    Please correct me but where has this been unpublished for years in the media? I’ve never heard about this until today. Either it has been buried or? I sense a smell but cannot put my finger on the source. Inform me please. Everyone on this site is Pro Thorium whatever? Yes, I will look further but I’m not a rocket scientist, nor do I profess to be. We would all like to know facts before making any wild eye statement about possible snake oil.

  13. NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 15, 2010 at 5:25 am #

    “The report The Climategate Inquiries, written by Andrew Montford and with a foreword by Lord (Andrew) Turnbull, finds that the inquiries into the conduct and integrity of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia were rushed and seriously inadequate.”

  14. Rob N. Hood September 15, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    Jon Ponder | Sep. 14, 2010
    More signs that Pres. Obama and the Democrats are succeeding in slowing or bringing the GOP-Bush Recession to an end, via Bloomberg:

    The U.S. government posted a smaller budget deficit in August compared with the same month last year, helped by rising tax receipts.

    The excess of spending over revenue totaled $90.5 billion last month, smaller than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and down 13 percent from $103.6 billion in August 2009, according to a Treasury Department report issued today in Washington. The gap for the fiscal year that started in October was $1.26 trillion compared with $1.37 trillion last year at the same time.

    The economic recovery has helped generate more tax revenue for the Treasury, even as the Congressional Budget Office forecasts the deficit this fiscal year will reach $1.34 trillion, the second-largest on record. The Obama administration faces the challenge of trying to limit the shortfall while stimulating an economy with joblessness close to 10 percent.

  15. paul wenum September 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Gentlemen, my time has passed. Discourse has been good. Time to devote my energy going forward for November, 2010 and 2012. Nothing changes without commitment. Tired of he said/she said/they said/stats are/take this/take that/point/counter-point is beyond imagination. This keyboard will now be silent on this end. Time better spent with food shelves, helping others other than pushing buttons. Suggest that everyone on this site look inward and then look outward and think forward hereafter. There are numerous opportunities available to help others. Will be checking in on occasion just to view but will never respond. Nothing other than arguments ensue when I post on this sight. Take care my friends and please help others absent a computer. Computers don’t feed the needy be they Republicans, Democrats, independents, et al. Suggest everyone get off their chair, take a walk and smell real life as it exists. I’m going forward not looking back. Suggest that you all think about it as well. Finally,

    Thanks Dan. It has been an interesting ride! Take care.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 17, 2010 at 6:01 am #

      Paul, I understand the need to take a break. But a permanent break? I really hope not. I’ll miss you if you do, but I really hope you don’t. Whatever you do, I wish you the best, and good luck to you.

  16. Rob N. Hood September 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    Well said Paul. I’m about there myself. Dan will assuredly miss the heck out of us.

    How did “it” Happen?

    (a) The founders believed an informed electorate was necessary for our democracy. However, between 1830-50 the richest 1% eliminated gov’t printing income to news publishers. This made media survival dependent upon the approval of large advertisers, whose favored news providers have been the ones which produce an angry and disinformed electorate. This because a mob is easier to manipulate than an informed electorate. This simple tactic has worked to get the American electorate to vote against their own interests, and for the interests of the richest 1%, about 3/4 of the time, for the past 175 years.

    (b) FDR passed laws to control the richest 1%, including a 90% tax on them. It took the richest 1% 60 years to tear down FDR’s laws. The richest 1% crashed the US economy about a decade after the Civil War, about a decade after WWI and about a decade after they finally tore down FDR’s laws that partially controlled them.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 17, 2010 at 5:56 am #

      Rob, it’s not good enough you have to steal someone elses work, now you edit it too?

      a) The founders believed an informed electorate was necessary for our democracy. However, between 1830-50 the richest 1% eliminated gov’t printing income to news publishers. This made media survival dependent upon the approval of large advertisers, whose favored news providers have been the ones which produce an angry and disinformed electorate. This because a mob is easier to manipulate than an informed electorate. This simple tactic has worked to get the American electorate to vote against their own interests, and for the interests of the richest 1%, about 3/4 of the time, for the past 175 years.

      (b) The richest 1% is just as fit or unfit for public leadership as were kings, and for exactly the same reasons.

      (c) FDR passed laws to control the richest 1%, including a 90% tax on them. It took the richest 1% 60 years to tear down FDR’s laws. The richest 1% crashed the US economy about a decade after the Civil War, about a decade after WWI and about a decade after they finally tore down FDR’s laws that partially controlled them.

      (d) War is believed good for business. War is bad for business, but the reason it is believed good is because it has massive federal deficits. The richest 1% love wars for the massive deficits are spent on large businesses they own. The richest 1% hate social programs where the deficits are spent on things they do not own.

      (e) In ’80 the richest 1% had about 9% of national income and owned about 20% of national wealth. Today the richest 1% has some 20% of national income and owns about 40% of national wealth.

      And as far as I can tell these comments are only found in comments to other various blogs! What is the original source? I have no idea!!! I can’t find it on the web.

  17. Hal Groar September 16, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Wow! We are losing Paul? Hmm… that sucks. I hope you reconsider Paul, your insight and optimism is needed here. I think you help just throwing in your two cents! This fight over cap’n’tax needs people like you to help keep focus! I do hope you reconsider!!

  18. Rob N. Hood September 17, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    You thinking that Paul provided insight and optimism is a testament to your inability to perceive reality. He provided pretty much the exact opposite of that. But… whatever, eh?

    And Neil- I’m so sorry you can’t find what I posted on the web. Trying to kill the messenger is the oldest and saddest trick in the book.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

      No, I did find it. But it was only in postings by commentors on other blogs. And how is posting the complete article killing the messenger? I’m interested in getting the whole story, not the snippetts that you post. How is exposing a nut author with their own words killing the messenger? You are flailing.

  19. Rob N. Hood September 18, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    That’s funny Neil because your statement is the epitome of flailing. Like Paul when cornered you project yourself onto others (me).

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 19, 2010 at 7:57 am #

      What? How do you come to that conclusion? You are the one of accusing me of killing the messenger, which is preposterous because I want the whole story. You are the one who is censoring the messenger allowing only what you wish to convey to permeate through by posting little snippetts and not providing a source.

  20. Rob N. Hood September 21, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    That “snippet” completely corresponded with the rest of the quote and in no way negates the message. As usual you are focussing on minutiae and silliness rather than dealing directly with anything of relevance. You posted the rest of it so why are you complaining? The fact that the rest of it flies in the face of your belief system and you still posted it is rather humorous, is it not? Thanks for posting the whole thing- it is a rather good snippet of facts.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 26, 2010 at 6:48 am #

      What are you talking about? What I posted was from someone elses comments on another blog and is not the whole thing. For all we know this could be from a story illuminating leftist insanity! It could have gone on to refute each point. We don’t know, and we may never know. Chances are though that it is from the garbage you read and continues on the same lines of thought. But the content was not my point, but for me it does illustrate the depths of ineptitude to whoever believes those things has stumbled.
      For example: the assertion that “between 1830-50 the richest 1% eliminated gov’t printing income to news publishers”. If you do some research on the history of newspapers, as I did, you will find that there is no validity to this statement. No truth in it whatsoever. There was never “government income” to news publishers. Ever!!!
      It is a lie. It didn’t happen. The model for making money from newspapers was the same back then, before 1830, and after 1850, as it is still today, subcriptions and advertisers.
      Yet, because it fits the template of your class warrior additude, you believe it. This what I mean when I said you need to research what you think. You might think it’s the truth, but as I have clearly demonstrated the truth can be found with very little effort. You have to want to know the truth though. Not just believe something because it bolsters what you believe already.

  21. Rob N. Hood September 27, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    As demonstrated by your own little research project, anything in the post no matter its origin can be checked out, just as you did. So I don’t know why you let it bunch your panties so much. Even if “the original” was posted your reaction to it would be the same, AND you’d have the same opportunity to research it. If I ever have the time I will look into the news funding issue too. But in case you havent’ noticed (you have but are in denial about it) big money has increased its power over time. There have been several things done to assist this power grab legislatively, again due to the money the media wield. In effect, what is stated above as seemingly ancient history is in fact occurring today, also. And yet, you let your unending biases and prejudices blind you to that fact.

    I also feel fairly confident that the original premise of that particular “fact” is true- your “extensive” research notwithstanding. Those types of extremely important “tidbits” are usually not reported on in the first place, or buried so the public cannot be exposed to such inconveniences very easily. Not to mention the fact the funding for the arts in this country including public broadcasting has continually been cut over time and has become comproimised with sponsors just like regular stations/channels. It is you Neil who believes something (anything) becasue it bolsters what you already believe.

    • NEIL F. AGWD/BSD September 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

      Whatever Rob. You wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and slapped you in your face.

      • Rob N. Hood September 28, 2010 at 7:04 am #

        Right back atcha.

  22. paul wenum September 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Sorry Neil, I had to get this in. Please vote your convictions come November 2,2010. If everyone spent as much energy on their candidates as well as family numerous problems would have been solved years ago. I love the serenity of the lake in the Fall. No phone, laptop etc. No more posts. VOTE!

  23. Rob N. Hood September 28, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Yes, please vote for either one of our corporate parties! That will help change things! As Gee Dubya once said, “fool me twice… I, uh, won’t get fooled again.”

  24. paul wenum September 28, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    I get a laugh out of people with no commitment and then complain thereafter. No wonder you have an attitude problem.

  25. Rob N. Hood September 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Committment to the same thing over and over again with no discernable change in results means one thing and one thing only…

    Insanity. This nation is awash in it.

    My point above being of course that we all need to start voting for alternative parties/independents. Only of we start doing that and on a consistent basis will things ever change.

  26. paul wenum September 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Simple answer. Vote your convictions. Absent that don’t complain. Point is, VOTE.

  27. Rob N. Hood October 1, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    They are all whores to the golden idol of corporatism. (except for an honest few, very few)

  28. paul wenum October 1, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    In other words, you will not vote even if Jesus was running. Oh well, I tried and gave it my best shot. At least when I vote, right or wrong I can sleep at night that I voted my convictions. Enough said by the Ole Scot.

  29. Rob N. Hood October 2, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    In other words… not at all… Pay attention.

  30. Rob N. Hood October 28, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Where oh where is this Unobtainium (Thorizine or whatever it is)???!!!

    Yes I would vote for Jesus btw. But I also have noticed sadly that he ain’t running, although Russ Feingold is definitely Jesus-like… close enough that I would vote for him if I could!

  31. paul wenum October 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Your choice, go for it as long as you are a resident of Wisconsin.

  32. Rob N. Hood November 1, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    I’m not that is why I said I wish I could. We had Paul Wellstone, but like so many other true Liberals he was erased.

  33. paul wenum November 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I personally admired Wellstone even though he passed no legislation. At least he was a man of beliefs. Right, wrong or indifferent.

  34. Rob N. Hood November 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Wow! An aberration from Paul. A seemingly honest opinion that is off the rigid republican right radar. Bravo! Course I doubt you’d be singing the other Paul’s praises if he was still alive and kicking. No, you’d hate his guts I’m pretty sure.

  35. paul wenum November 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Hate is not in my vocabulary.

A project of Minnesota Majority, hosted and maintained by Minnesotans for Global Warming.