Molten-salt reactors were first introduced back in 1965 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, it failed at creating nuclear weaponry and was canned in the 1970’s. And while it wasn’t useful for creating nuclear weaponry, it could prove quite useful for creating clean power for millions of years.
Molten-salt reactors will never melt down, and they burn far more efficiently than any other power generating technology currently available.
“It’s reliable, it’s clean, it basically does everything fossil fuel does today,” Kirk Sorensen, the chief technology officer of nuclear energy startup Flibe Energy, told Business Insider. Sorensen was speaking during an episode of Business Insider’s podcast Codebreaker, which is produced with National Public Radio’s “Marketplace. ”
“And it does a whole bunch of things it doesn’t do today, like make energy without emitting carbon,” he added.
To top that off, by simply adding thorium, the reactor can actually “breed” as much fuel as it burns. Alvin Weinberg, who was a scientist working for the Manhatten Project speculated that if all of the thorium lying beneath the Earth’s crust could be harvested, we would have power for billions of years.
“In the coming decades, an increasing number of coal and nuclear base-load electricity plants will be retired. Coal is under growing environmental pressure and a significant number of plant retirements are in the pipeline. Meanwhile, the hoped-for nuclear renaissance has fallen short of the initial anticipations, a casualty of concerns raised by the catastrophe at Fukushima, as well as low natural gas prices that have rendered uneconomic operation of even some current plants”
If these sources of power are in fact retired, what would replace them? Many analysts and companies have suggested that it is due time to re-evaluate molten-salt reactors, which would only use spent nuclear fuel, or thorium. China has also expressed interests in looking into such an energy source.
Due to the ever-expanding population of our planet, along with limited numbers of resources, we could one day face and energy crisis. Of course, we have faced them in the past, but many speculate that one of much larger proportions could be in store. If that is correct, why wouldn’t we give a safer and more efficient energy the chance to shine? Especially if it could power civilization for billions of years.