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Electricity production using Thorium; is it safe for the environment?

Nuclear power has long been a debatable topic. Thorium is a naturally-occurring but slightly radioactive metal. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. In recent origin it’s quite proven that Thorium stores a great potential of energy production in itself. In technical terms, the isotope of Thorium Th-232 is being studied for generation of power. Th-232 is placed in a reactor, where it is bombarded with a beam of neutrons. After certain processes the heat generated from it helps in producing power. Simply the intense heat is converted to electricity.

Taking environment into consideration producing electricity from Thorium produces less radioactive waste. Thorium power has other attractions too. Its production of nuclear waste would be orders of magnitude lower than conventional nuclear power. With the world's population about to hit nine billion by 2050, it highlights the increasingly urgent need to find a clean, reliable and renewable source of energy so Thorium may be the answer for that. Also Thorium is four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust making it easily accessible as an energy resource.

If we talk about environmentalists, they say that thorium is still nuclear energy, its reactors disgorging the same toxic byproducts and fissile waste with the same millennial half-lives. Oliver Tickell, author of Kyoto2, says the fission materials produced from thorium are of a different spectrum to those from uranium-235, but ‘include many dangerous-to-health alpha and beta emitters'.

Some environmental effects of thorium:
  • Environmental stability:Thorium will slowly react with water, oxygen, and other compounds to form a wide variety of tungsten compounds.
  • Effect of material on plants or animals:Due to the product size and the product’s form, no unusual environmental effects are expected from these products; however, large releases of thorium may be harmful to contaminated plants and animals.
  • Effect of chemical on aquatic life:Due to the product size and the product’s form, these products are not anticipated to cause adverse effects on aquatic life; however, large releases of thorium into a body of water may be harmful to aquatic plants and animals.
  • Waste disposal must be in accordance with appropriate federal, state, and local regulations. These products, if unaltered by use, may be disposed of by treatment at a permitted facility or as advised by your local hazardous waste regulatory authority.


All work practices must be aimed at eliminating environmental contamination.

References:
  • http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/te_1450_web.pdf
  • https://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/th.htm
  • https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jun/23/thorium-nuclear-uranium
  • http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/thorium.aspx
  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/01/16/thorium-future-nuclear-energy/#.WhaHclWWbIU
  • About the CLUB OF ROME

    The Club of Rome was founded in 1968 as an informal association of independent leading personalities from politics, business and science, men and women who are long-term thinkers interested in contributing in a systemic interdisciplinary and holistic manner to a better world.


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