YES-DC’s Thorium event report: ‘the Energy wonder of Thorium’?

The activity held on March 6th 2013 concerned the topic of ‘The energy Wonder of Thorium’. Thorium (Th, element 90) is an element that can be used as a fuel in new types of Nuclear Fission reactors. Thorium is more abundant than Uranium and leaves less harmless waste materials than current nuclear power plants. Currently, China and other Asian countries are investing large amounts into Thorium reactor research. To find out whether Thorium fueled reactors are indeed ‘energy wonders’ YES-DC had invited: Dr. Ir. Jan Leen Kloosterman of the Reactor Institute Delft.

During the event, Kloosterman first extensively introduces us into the basics of nuclear energy. After the break, he talked us through the future possibilities and challenges of Thorium fueled reactors and the difference between Thorium and other nuclear reactors to see how much of a wonder Thorium actually is.

While he confirmed that Thorium reactors have a future, he did not call it an energy wonder. It will take many years to develop and build commercial reactors. Furthermore, if it matures and societies choose to also embrace nuclear power, it will only be a part of the energy mix. According to Kloosterman, to fight the climate problem we will need all alternatives to fossil energy.

Kloosterman gave an informative presentation that lifted the nuclear energy debate above the classic sentiments of those who are strongly in favor and those who are strongly against. In a pragmatic way he painted a picture that, if societies wish to embrace nuclear energy, thorium reactors can be of significance as part of broader energy mix. Kloosterman himself could think of bigger risks than nuclear energy, that societies are willing to take.