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  • Kathryn Patterson

Petition to Restart LFTR Research in the Government

************************************************************************** I don't usually do this, but I am asking you, my readers, to please read and, if you agree, sign the petition to the White House about resuming research into the LFTR  (pronounced "lifter") project. LFTR stands for Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, a different type of nuclear reactor first studied in the 1950s and 1960s.  Basically, liquid fluoride thorium reactors:

  1. work at extremely high temperatures (815 degrees Celsius or 1500 degrees Fahrenheit),

  2. work at regular pressure, and 

  3. cool down with the surrounding air. In contrast, our current nuclear reactors (mostly LWR - Light Water Reactor):

  4. work at high temperatures (around 300 degrees Celsius, or 572 degrees Fahrenheit),

  5. work at high pressures, and

  6. need a water-based cooling system to cool down. LWRs need to be large enough to justify the expenses of the water cooling systems, and the high pressure containment systems.  This translate to a definite minimum size for profitability. In terms of waste, let me quote some numbers for you: In theory, LFTRs would produce far less waste along their entire process chain, from ore extraction to nuclear waste storage, than LWRs. A LFTR power plant would generate 4,000 times less mining waste (solids and liquids of similar character to those in uranium mining) and would generate 1,000 to 10,000 times less nuclear waste than an LWR. Additionally, because LFTR burns all of its nuclear fuel, the majority of the waste products (83%) are safe within 10 years, and the remaining waste products (17%) need to be stored in geological isolation for only about 300 years (compared to 10,000 years or more for LWR waste). Additionally, the LFTR can be used to "burn down" waste from an LWR (nearly the entirety of the United States' nuclear waste stockpile) into the standard waste products of an LFTR, so long-term storage of nuclear waste would no longer be needed.  (From In the mid 1960s,  a research group ran a liquid fluoride thorium reactor, using the equivalent of a light switch to turn it off every Friday evening and back on every Monday morning.  But the government shut down the project after five years and never resumed funding. Why? Because the Department of Defense provided the funding for nuclear research, and LFTRs don't produce weapons-grade plutonium.  In our race for weaponry, we stopped funding the better answer to energy production because it did not help the Cold War. And now we are paying the price.  If we had LFTR technology, we could give it away to every country in the world that wanted nuclear energy.  The U.S. would be able to go to Iran and say, "Here, we have the answer to your energy problems.  We'll be good neighbors and help out." instead of politely threatening them to stop their nuclear research. If we had LFTR technology, we could shut down the coal mines and coal plants.  Instead, we could open up thorium mining, and produce clean energy.  We would not be reliant on gas or oil from other countries to heat our homes in the winter and cool them in the summer.  We would be self-sufficient. So please sign this petition, and maybe we can change a small part of our world. Links for more information:

  7. The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor: Why Didn't This Happen (and why is now the right time?)

  8. The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor: What Fusion Wanted To Be

  9. Energy From Thorium: A Nuclear Waste Burning Liquid Salt Thorium Reactor

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