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 by people in key-decision making positions.
I made copies of the CDs and sent them to various leaders–heads of national labs, the Secretary of Energy at the time, university professors. I viewed my role as akin to the medieval monk who had obtained a copy of the great works of Aristotle or Plato and wanted his contemporaries to read it. I had hope that one of the people who might read the documents on the CDs would say, “Aha! This work was incredibly important! We should restart it!”
But that simply didn’t turn out to be the case.
By early 2006 my friend at Glenn Research Center Ray Beach told me that he was going to set up a meeting with me and some of his friends and colleagues in the energy generation arena. We had the meeting in February 2006, and I credit that with being the start of my public advocacy for LFTR.
Sometime in April of 2006 I saw an advertisement for a web site hosting service for $100/yr and 25 GB. I realized that would be enough to hold the documents and so I bought the domain name “energyfromthorium.com” and began uploading the documents. It took a few days. Then I needed to promote it, so I started a blog using the Blogger software and some of you might remember the original location of Energy from Thorium being a blogspot.com address.
Those first few months were still some of my very best blogging, as I would write articles about the various aspects of LFTR design and processing. The readers to the blog came slowly but steadily, and I really appreciated everyone who came and commented. Back then I only had two kids and they were sleeping through the night so I had more time to blog.
By November of 2006 I noticed that some of our discussions were getting pretty long and I wanted a discussion forum to complement the blog, so I installed one on the server and we got the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum. It was a lot of fun and active discussions stayed near the top of the list which was a substantial advantage over the blog comments.
In the spring of 2007 I led a graduate design team as part of my coursework at the University of Tennessee and we had a baby boy, so both my blogging and commenting on the forum dropped a lot. But I really enjoyed all of the things I was learning through the attempt to design a fluoride reactor albeit for a school project.
On June 30, 2007 I awoke one Saturday morning to find that my baby son had died in the night, and my life seemed to end. I stopped blogging. I pretty much stopped doing everything. I appreciate Charles Barton co-blogging at Energy from Thorium as well as at Nuclear Green for those years where it was difficult for me to get going again.
In June of 2009 a panel meeting at the American Nuclear Society meeting in Atlanta got me excited about blogging again, and I took over the reins of Energy from Thorium once more. I’ve done better since 2009 but I’ve never come close to matching the output of that first year in 2006 or the prolific blogging of my friends Charles Barton or Rod Adams. Frankly, I don’t think I ever will.
Lots of people came to know about thorium from this blog. John Kutsch found out about it and started the Thorium Energy Alliance, which has been a tremendous force for moving the message forward. We had our first conference in October 2009 in Washington, DC, then our second in March 2010 hosted by Google in Mountain View California. In a few weeks we’ll have our third conference again in Washington DC.
As far as I know, Andreas Norlin found out about thorium from this blog and started the International Thorium Energy Organization (IThEO) which had its inaugural conference in London in October of 2010 and was a great success.
In March 2010 I started a Facebook page to correspond with the blog which has turned into a bit of a “micro-blog” for the thorium message and has attracted over 2500 fans and is growing every day.
Many people have learned about thorium from the blog and the organizations it has spawned and inspired. That gives me deep satisfaction.
But I have also been surprised at how muted the response to the thorium message has been among two communities that should have embraced it with open arms.
First is the environmentalist community. Thorium is a reliable and energy-rich substance that can address many of their issues with existing forms of nuclear power. Yet not a single environmentalist organization of any stature has embraced it. Why?
Second is the nuclear power generation community. LFTR technology addresses concerns about safety, high-pressure operation, spent-fuel management, nuclear fuel resources, and a host of other concerns. Yet not a single large-scale nuclear manufacturer has any effort to develop LFTR. No national nuclear program outside of the Chinese has an effort to develop thorium/LFTR. Why?
It truly makes me wonder if the things that the nuclear and environmentalist communities say are important to them really are important to them, because if you take them at face value, they should be enthusiastic about thorium/LFTR, and after five years of effort it’s safe to say that they’re not. It really makes me wonder.
Nevertheless, our efforts have brought many thousands of people to know and advocate for thorium and LFTR who probably never thought much about nuclear energy before that, and I am very very grateful for that.
Thank you all for your support of this blog and the larger effort to move the world to sustainable and safe nuclear energy powered by thorium and LFTR technology.