Last week there was a fascinating article in the magazine “The Week” on the subject of the material Thorium. The article was entitled “The metal that could save the world”. Thorium is a first rate nuclear fuel that is as common in the Earth`s crust as tin, mercury and silver. It was discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jon Jacob Berzelius and he named it after the Norse god Thor. The Nobel prize- winning physicist Carlo Rubbia estimates that one ton of Thorium will deliver as much energy as 200 tons of Uranium and 3500 tons of Coal.
Not only is Thorium far more energy productive than Uranium, it is also safer and easier to use. The problems at Chernobyl and Fukushima would have been greatly alleviated if Thorium had been the fuel source instead of Uranium – also the Thorium waste is much easier to dispose of safely. The former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said “I am told that Thorium will be safer in reactors and it is almost impossible to make a bomb using Thorium. These are very major factors as the world looks for future energy supplies.” There would not appear to be any major technical problems in the development of nuclear reactors designed to use Thorium as their fuel source. In fact at the Oak Ridge National laboratory in the 1960s a reactor was designed and ran successfully until 1976 when it was closed down after its patron Alvin Weinberg was fired. Today both India and China are developing their twenty first century nuclear energy reactors using Thorium as their fuel source.
To me this all seems to point to the Western world being led by the nose by the Political Hawks and the Arms Industry which are undoubtedly linked. In the past, countless billions of dollars have been ploughed into uranium-based research for both energy and more importantly weapons. In the words of Mr Blix, Uranium has a very deep furrow, backed by vested interests. It is said by some, that Thorium was rejected in favour of Uranium because it was too “Safe”. If this is true, what a sad indictment of the human race. We had available, in abundance, a safe fuel that could resolve the energy needs and thereby the food and water requirements of the world. Yet the people in power chose for reasons of global domination and personal gain to risk the future safety of the earth and use Uranium. This selfish decision condemned many people in the developing nations to a life of hardship and poverty.