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Robert Hargraves has written articles and made presentations about the liquid fluoride thorium reactor and energy cheaper than from coal – the only realistic way to dissuade nations from burning fossil fuels. His presentation “Aim High” about the technology and social benefits of the liquid fluoride thorium reactor has been presented to audiences at Dartmouth ILEAD, Thayer School of Engineering, Brown University, Columbia Earth Institute, Williams College, Royal Institution, the Thorium Energy Alliance, the International Thorium Energy Association, Google, the American Nuclear Society, the President's Blue Ribbon Commission of America’s Nuclear Future, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With coauthor Ralph Moir he has written articles for the American Physical Society Forum on Physics and Society: Liquid Fuel Nuclear Reactors (Jan 2011) and American Scientist: Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (July 2010). Robert Hargraves is a study leader for energy policy at Dartmouth ILEAD. He was chief information officer at Boston Scientific Corporation and previously a senior consultant with Arthur D. Little. He founded a computer software firm, DTSS Incorporated while at Dartmouth College where he was assistant professor of mathematics and associate director of the computation center. He graduated from Brown University (PhD Physics 1967) and Dartmouth College (AB Mathematics and Physics 1961).
Anything from Robert Hargraves is worth reading....this one is a must as it wipes out all of the opposition to nuclear power. Read the book and understand how we all have been brainwashed by the fossil industry. There is no existential substitute for nuclear and Hargraves shows us how cheap it can be. Reese Palley, Author THE ANSWER: Why Only Inherently Safe Mini Nuclear Power Plants Can Save The World.
Dr. Hargraves has produced a truly useful book because he combines economics with the question of our future energy needs, and he does it in a way all levels of readers can understand. We are all concerned with the needed energy for our food, comfort, and quality of life and to find a way to have a clean and safe future at the same time. To some this seems a daunting conflict. It is easy to be deflected into many relatively unproductive directions trying to find the holy grail to answer this question. How can we have ample energy and a safe and clean environment? Dr. Hargraves explains how.
The answer has been around for a long time but a quirk of history turned us down other directions. "Thorium Energy Cheaper than Coal" is a book that shows us quite well how much safer, and less costly, abundant energy can be generated from Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (called LFTR and Yes, Virginia, this is a nuclear reactor.) A LFTR is unlike any nuclear reactor you may think. Different from other reactors, this is not a high pressure plant constantly in need of a challenging containment vessel and potential water cooling in case of emergencies. The LFTR is sometimes called "walk away" safe. LFTRs hold the promise of providing the energy mankind requires for centuries without the air pollution of many other dense energy sources and at a far lower cost than the weak alternate energy sources. If that seems too good to be true, you will be surprised to learn there are even more benefits to developing our energy future around the plentiful element thorium.
Dr. Robert Hargraves does a great service in writing a book that is easily understandable by the general public and adequately introduces the concepts to economists, physicists and engineers at the same time.Read more ›
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Disclaimer: I have done a lot of reading online about MSRs (molten salt reactors), LFTRs (liquid flouride thorium reactors), global warming, energy policy, and the history of nuclear power generation. I am generally in agreement with the arguments contained in this book.
This book is in part a compilation of lots of material which is available online about these subjects. The author methodically builds the case for rapid development of MSRs, and especially thorium-powered MSRs, to replace coal-fired power generation. I thought the basic science tutorial at the beginning of the book was not really necessary or could have been summarized. The book contains many typos, and the illustrations have a cut-and-paste quality--it is almost like a website with links to disparate sources with a variety of video resolutions. This gives me the impression that the book was thrown together quickly from existing sources. However it is logically organized and easy to read.
For someone who is not knowledgeable about these subjects, this book is a great resource. The argument for LFTRs is compelling, and the online references are convenient for those interested in learning more.
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There is an alphabet soup of nuclear technologies being developed around the world, but Hargraves provides a detailed description of the cleanest, safest, and cheapest ones that can also burn up "spent" fuel and decommissioned weapons material. More technical and specific than POWER TO SAVE THE WORLD by Gwyneth Cravens, Hargraves provides a complete guide to the status of nuclear power development.
A thorium fueled molten salt reactor was demonstrated in the 1960's at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but uranium based reactors were developed instead, because they provided plutonium by-products for Cold War weapons. India and China have started development projects to pick up where we left off, partly because thorium is so much more available to them.
There are solutions for climate change, but time is running out while we cook the planet with fossil fuels.
The idea behind this book is not fear. It is not about doom from existing nuclear plants, or even from global warming. The title tells much of the thesis: nuclear energy can be cheaper than coal. Why is this important?
Coal was the fuel that brought the industrial revolution and made Western nations prosperous. Now that Western nations are prosperous, we are beginning to turn away from coal, at least to some extent. However, many developing nations are following the Western path to prosperity: "We'll start with coal." If the wealthy countries wag their fingers at the developing world about coal, they quite rightly get fingers wagged back at them: "When our people are even half as prosperous as your people, we will enjoy a conversation with you about optimum energy sources. Until then, you rich guys, don't be such a bunch of hypocrites."
With the section on overcoming poverty, THORIUM sets the LFTR in context. He also explains LFTR technology. The information in this book includes charts and illustrations, description of the different varieties of LFTR, information about the technical challenges that LFTRs have overcome, and about many of the technical challenges remaining. I don't know anywhere else you could obtain this information so clearly and concisely. The information is out there, no doubt, in thorium forums and papers (and Hargraves references these). But if you want a quick-course on LFTRs, not a personal-research-project on LFTRs, this is the book for you.
In either case, this book is a major achievement, and should be on the bookshelf of people interested in energy in general, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and advanced reactors. In other words, it will be helpful to pretty much everybody.
Note: This review is a shorter version of a post on my blog: A Book I Loved [...]
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