- Series: MacSci
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 8, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230116477
- ISBN-13: 978-0230116474
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 23.8 x 242.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 94 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future (MacSci)
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“Besides briefly covering everything technical you need to know about the 90th element on the periodic table, SuperFuel provides engaging detail on the history and likely future of using thorium as a comparatively safe and substantially beneficial nuclear fuel . . . [Martin] makes a solid, convincing case for thorium as a superfuel, not simply to replace uranium, but to reduce the use of much dirtier fuels such as coal . . . With readable presentations like SuperFuel, the path to a better energy future just got a little easier.” ―The Washington Times
“Makes the case that thorium, an abundant, safe element that cannot easily be turned into a weapon, should be fuelling our reactors instead of uranium…Martin is at his best when describing the human struggles of the cold-war era that spelled their…convincing.” ―New Scientist
“Traces the history of nuclear power development. . . Recommended.” ―Choice
“Richard Martin has done an exemplary job of exploring a technically demanding subject in a gripping narrative form. The implications of this subject could not be more vital -- for oil prices, energy security, the chances of coping with climate change -- and 'Superfuel' clearly and fairly spells out the reasons for both optimism and for caution. If every technical book were written in this clear and engaging a style, we'd all be a lot better informed! I am very glad to have read this book.” ―James Fallows, The Atlantic, author of China Airborne
“Bringing back to light a long-lost technology that should never have been lost, this fascinating and important biography of thorium also brings us a commodity that's rare in discussions of energy and climate change: hope.” ―Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired
“Thorium is the younger sister to uranium, less volatile, slower to self-consume, and as many have contended without success, much better suited as a source of nuclear power than uranium. Superfuel by award-winning science writer Richard Martin tells the Cinderella story of thorium in a fast-paced, insider's account. This short, well-written book is a must read for those interested in understanding thorium's past and its potential to be a clean, renewable energy source for the future.” ―Cynthia Kelly, President Atomic Heritage Foundation
“Our future energy supplies rely upon hard choices. Richard Martin educates us on our troubled history with nuclear energy, and even more importantly, how to develop this essential source of 21st century clean energy. This is the type of book that can make a difference!” ―John Hofmeister, author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies
“The story of the slightly radioactive element thorium, a much-touted alternative fuel for nuclear power plants. Abundant in the Earth's crust, thorium has been used in various industrial processes since its discovery in 1828. Advocates, writes Martin, an award-winning journalist and senior research analyst for Pike Research, a clean energy firm, say the silver-gray element has another possible use: as a cheap, safe energy source with the potential to solve our power crisis.…A lucid overview of a still-developing chapter in the story of nuclear power.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Richard Martin was the first to write about thorium in the mainstream press. His feature story in Wired catalyzed the thorium power movement. An award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Time, Fortune, The Atlantic, and The Best Science Writing, Martin is the editorial director of Pike Research, a leading clean-energy firm. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and son.
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Top customer reviews
In this book Rick Martin does a marvelous job telling the amazing and true story of the almost forgotten power of element 90: thorium. During the Manhattan Project thorium was passed over for consideration because it wasn't practical for nuclear weapons, but after the war researchers discovered how thorium and its fissile derivative uranium-233 would be the best fuel for clean and safe nuclear reactors--they just didn't know exactly what form those reactors would take. Then in the 1950s and 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, Dr. Alvin Weinberg and his team figured out the right way--a revolutionary new kind of reactor that used liquid fluoride salts rather than solid ceramic pellets as a nuclear fuel. No one could believe that such a machine could work, but Weinberg's team actually built and operated two of them very successfully.
But the atomic energy establishment in the United States and around the world wanted a plutonium fast breeder reactor--a reactor totally different in every way from Weinberg's safe fluoride-salt reactor--and they convinced Nixon to make it national policy, which he did in 1971. Then they used that position of strength to cancel all of the research at Oak Ridge in thorium and fluoride salts and they got Weinberg fired as director. Without their leader and their political support, the Oak Ridge team dissolved and disbanded and the notion of a safe, clean, efficient thorium reactor was lost.
Nuclear engineering students don't learn about it today. It's not taught in their schools. You can get an MS or PhD in nuclear engineering and never hear anything about Weinberg's work. I speak from first-hand experience!
Read this book and you'll learn the incredible true story of how energy security and energy independence for the whole world is feasible, possible, and affordable through the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR)!
1) Martin is a believer in man made global warming. He says there are no scientists of repute who deny it. This is utter nonsense and he knows it. I studied under Reid Bryson, the dean of American climatologists and he didn't believe in it. Mr. Martin lives in Boulder, CO so he needs to get out more. European scientists just blew a hole in global warming a mile wide and a million miles deep just in the last few days. Jan Esper, et al. just reported that Europe has been getting cooler for 2,000 years and proved it. No models, just deeply researched facts.
2) He's a lefty. Need proof: Martin writes that a past head of the Atomic Energy Commission was a "free market capitalist". Oh, dear me - not one of those.
What I do like and that does matter:
1) Even though I don't believe in global warming I would join forces with Martin in a heart beat if thorium reactors proved to be a) safe in all respects; b) cost effective in all respects. Coal, petroleum and natural gas based fuels are dirty. They also pack a lot of energy in a small space only exceeded by nuclear elements and that is why the world uses them. I don't think people would miss fossil fuels if we came up with a safe, non-poluting alternative for many fossil fuel uses.
2) The important points are:
We live on planet with abundant thorium.
Thorium is a byproduct of rare earth mining and is virtually free. No rare earths, no windmills inter alia folks.
Thorium if used as a nuclear fuel in a reactor has advantages that could make uranium reactors obsolete.
We already built a thorium reactor in the US and it worked.
Wind, solar etc. will never produce enough base load electricity
Through bad decision making and errors thorium reactors were stopped and then forgotten
Whether global warming is true or false, why not utilize thorium if it truly is a better fuel.
3) Where do we go from here:
We have spent tens of billions of federal dollars on credits and subsidies for ethanol, wind, solar, geothermal, algae and so forth. We have spent virtually nothing on thorium. If you read as much about thorium as I have tried to do over the last few years, you arrive at a conclusion that thorium should be given every chance to succeed.
So I recommend buying the book, reading it and then giving it to member of Congress. Tell the member there's no money in it for them, just helping the country and perhaps mankind. There has to be a few people in Washington DC who can see past being re-elected over and over again and lining their pockets while in office. Maybe we just need one advocate.
Lastly, I want to thank Mr. Martin for his thorium article in "Wired" magazine. In addition, he probably won't make a whole lot of money on this book, but if thorium is the "Super Fuel" for our planet, and this book helps us get there then we owe a big debt of gratitude to Mr Martin and all others who are working to make thorium power a reality.
I just bought an extra copy. After November 6th, I will have a new Congressman in the House. He gets the book. It's then up to him.
Update: I just mailed my extra copy today 12/7/2012 to my new Congressman. He's an engineer so he should like the story. It's really up to our representatives in Washington DC and folks like Kirk Sorensen. I truly wish them all well.