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« New Stock Trading Venture Launch 09 January 2013 | Main | SK OptionTrader makes 24% Just 2 Trading Days into 2013! »

Safe nuclear power not a pipedream


THE Chinese are running away with thorium energy, giving an edge to a global race for the prize of clean, cheap and safe nuclear power. Good luck to them. They may do us all a favour.

Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project for the Chinese Academy of Sciences with a start-up budget of $US350 million. He has already recruited 140 scientists working full time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics. He will have 750 staff by 2015.

The aim is to break free of the old pressurised-water reactors fuelled by uranium - originally designed for US submarines in the 1950s - in favour of thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste and cannot blow their tops like Fukushima.

''China is the country to watch,'' said Bryony Worthington, head of Britain's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy, who visited the Shanghai operations recently.

''They are really going for it, and have talented researchers. This could lead to a massive break-through.''

The thorium story is by now well known. Enthusiasts believe it could be the transforming technology needed to drive the industrial revolutions of Asia - and to avoid an almighty energy crunch as 2 billion more people climb the ladder to Western lifestyles.

At the least, it could do for nuclear power what shale fracking has done for natural gas - but on a bigger scale, for much longer, perhaps more cheaply, and with near zero carbon dioxide emissions.

The Chinese are leading the charge, but they are not alone. Norway's Thor Energy began a four-year test last month with Japan's Toshiba-Westinghouse to test whether they could use thorium at Norway's conventional Halden reactor near Oslo.

The Japanese are keen to go further, knowing they have to come up with something radically new to regain public trust and save their nuclear industry.

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