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Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are ‘overstated’ via The guardian

The benefits of an alternative nuclear fuel that could offer a safer and more abundant alternative to the uranium that powers conventional reactors have been “overstated”, according a new government report on the potential of thorium.

The report says the UK should continue to be engaged with the technology but downplays claims by thorium proponents who say that the radioactive chemical element makes it impossible to build a bomb from nuclear waste, leaves less hazardous waste than uranium reactors, and that it runs more efficiently.

“Thorium has theoretical advantages regarding sustainability, reducing radiotoxicity and reducing proliferation risk,” states the report, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). “While there is some justification for these benefits, they are often overstated.”

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Several thorium initiatives are under way outside the UK. In the US, Flibe Energy is developing a thorium reactor based on designs developed in the 1960s by the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

China is also developing different types of thorium reactors, and India is expected to start construction in four or five years of one that uses solid thorium fuel.

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