If Nuclear Power Has a More Promising Future ... Seth Grae Wants to Be the One Leading the Charge
"Everyone knows nuclear plants run on uranium, right?" Grae continues, and then launches into a litany of uranium's persistent problems. Nuclear plants in service today run on a fuel mix that generates enough spent uranium and plutonium to build dozens of nuclear weapons each year in the United States alone. That waste will remain highly radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. It already adds up to more than 78,000 metric tons, with highly uncertain prospects for safe, long-term storage.
But what if these very same nuclear power plants were able to run on a different fuel mix? A mix that: first, would generate only a minor amount of waste, if any, that could be used to build a nuclear weapon. Second, could destroy tons of plutonium instead of generating it. Third, would produce less than half the volume of current fuel waste, which would remain radioactive for only a few hundred years. And, fourth, is made from an element far more abundant, less radioactive and cheaper than uranium: thorium.