4 results for month: 04/2011


Five Years of Energy from Thorium

Last Friday this blog quietly celebrated its fifth anniversary. Very quietly in fact because I was busy getting the family to the in-laws to celebrate Easter and I imagine many other people were busy too. But even though it's a few days late, permit me to tell the story of this blog. Like many other things in my life, this blog was born of frustration. In 2002, Bruce Patton (now of ORNL, then of NASA) and I had obtained some modest funds to get the records of the Molten-Salt Reactor Program digitized and scanned in PDF documents. By the end of 2002, I had a stack of five CDs that contained the bulk of these records and I wanted to see them read ...

Renewable Energy's Gloomy Outlook

At the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, the International Energy Agency yesterday released its first Clean Energy Progress Report. While the report grasps at some notable success stories – “at least ten countries now have sizeable domestic markets, up from just three in 2000,” the authors wrote – the general outlook is actually rather gloomy. Almost half of new electricity demand over the last decade has been generated from coal, meaning that “achieving the goal of halving global energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050 will require a doubling of all renewable generation use by 2020 from today’s level.” And how does the IEA ...

The Fukushima Daiichi Disaster and Designing for Fundamental Safety

Kirk's note: I want to welcome Bram Cohen as an author on Energy from Thorium! The ongoing Fukushima Daiichi disaster is naturally making many people wonder about the safety of nuclear power. It’s a good illustration of how unexpected failures happen in practice, and also shows how Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a fundamentally safer approach. When building a reliable system, you must assume it will fail. Regardless of how many layers of safety you build into something, what really determines its fundamental safety is what happens if all safety systems fail at once. For a nuclear facility, aside from specifically hardening against ...

Thoughts on Lester Brown's "Plan-B"

Last night I was flying back from speaking at TEDxYYC to Alabama and I had a bit of time on my flight, so I watched a program that I had recorded on PBS a few days earlier. It was called "Plan-B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization" and it focused mostly on the work of Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute, as he travelled the world and particularly through Asia discussing how climate change would affect food production, and ultimately, civilization. The program began with what has become fairly standard fare in these types of programs, describing how fossil fuels have filled the atmosphere with CO2 and all the terrible things that will entail...I've ...