As a pragmatist, I flow where the data takes me. In the realm of energy to power the world, the data flow has taken me to nuclear energy. If you are locked into an ideology that has very little wiggle room and you don’t invest in some serious critical thinking, you will never change. There are a lot of people in this arena and hopefully I am not perceived as one of them.
Back in 2007, I discovered a nuclear reactor technology based on thorium as a fuel and molten salt as a moderator in the liquid reactor. Interestingly, the technology was developed back in the 1960’s and never made available for commercial use. As I studied the technology I became convinced it was the future of nuclear energy; clean, safe, reliable without the alleged issues of today’s light water reactors. Thorium fuel is the future, but I am more concerned about what we can do now, not later.
This is where I was able to change my thinking and focus on technology that is available now. What I discovered was another advanced fast spectrum molten salt reactor design that not only addresses the long term energy solution but also today’s needs. Over the last 60 years, the nuclear industry produced tons of unused radioactive fuel called spent nuclear fuel (SNF). With all that existing fuel and newer fast reactor designs to consume it, there isn’t a need for the thorium reactors for the next couple hundred years.
All that unused nuclear fuel is scattered all over the country, safely stored in concrete and steel canisters placed in concrete cask, both above ground and partially below ground at each individual power plant. In order for that unused fuel to be consumed in advanced fast reactors it has to be moved to an advanced fuel conversion facility. The HI-STORE CISF in Carlsbad NM would be the perfect location for such a facility next to the stored SNF. All we have to do is change a few minds.