Skip to comments.Thorium Regulation, Heavy Rare Earths, China & Loss of Hi-Tech Manufacturing Jobs
Posted on 10/23/2011 2:17:43 PM PDT by gordonmcdowell
Have noticed this topic mentioned previously ( http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2793363/posts ) and was hoping to engage people to determine HOW MUCH of a role thorium regulation plays in China's manufacturing advantage over USA (and Canada). I've heard conflicting opinions on this, and am looking for more to help clarify.
I am new here. Ain't right wing. Am Canadian. Am curious if folks on the American right are familiar with Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), and the energy/security implications stemming from thorium regulation?
Because I don't believe it is common knowledge on American left. And it is not common knowledge in Canada.
The cited video is an excerpt from THORIUM REMIX 2011, my doc which takes the position global warming is real. For the benefit of right wingers & libertarians the edit I've indicated doesn't get involved in global warming, as you might not believe that is a valid concern. It doesn't matter if global warming is true or false for thorium regulation to be a significant policy issue pertaining to jobs and competitiveness. (Although I don't dispute incorrect policies pertaining to global warming would reduce competitiveness... I'm hoping to bypass that discussion.)
Thorium is found with heavy rare earth elements. No one wants to mine thorium because presently it is a liability if it is refined too much (it is radioactive). This (helped) discourage domestic heavy rare earth mining playing into China's monopoly on heavy rare earths.
Heavy rare earths are essential for hi-tech manufacturing, such as iPods, iPhones and military technology.
And thorium itself is a promising source of energy. Consumed in a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (as opposed to the predominant solid fuel reactors we have today), far less waste is generated (almost zero transuranics).
China has no qualms about mining thorium, in fact thorium is stored for future use in their own LFTR which is receiving $1 bil in funding. They're taking (public domain) American research on Thorium Molten Salt Reactors, and aiming to control the IP as they innovate.
There are joint China-America cooperation agreements on environmental science. This is not withing the scope of shared research. When China solves LFTR engineering challenges, they have stated clearly they'll be patenting those solutions for themselves.
This seems (to me) like it should be a very big deal. If it isn't already common knowledge among people on this site.
I’ve read some things about the superiority of Thorium reactors. It seems to be sort of kept in the closet. Why didn’t the Zero put money into Thorium research and production as opposed worthless battery operated toy cars is evidence of his lack of intelligence and wisdom.
Karl Denninger and members of his otherwise financial/semi-political forum (I am one) are also big-to-huge proponents of LFTRs.
Some of this may behind a password, but there have been good numbers of discussions regarding Thorium over there. FYI.
Because that would be good for the US.
His highest goal, almost from the time he was a wee lad at his mother's knee, is to destroy the US and, ultimately, Western Civilization.
Understand that and everything he does makes perfect sense.
The USDOE ran a molten salt thorium reactor for over 20K hrs some time back. The concept has a lot of “pluses” going for it, IMO ! Additionally, the U.S. has large known reserves of thorium and, as you note, other valuable “rare earths” are often found in the same matrices. Hence mining of thorium making recovery of these elements economic is another “benefit”.
What I personally like about the thorium concept, (aside from its “fail cold” aspects)is these units would have a small physical, (and environmental) footprint. Because of their relatively small size they could be “factory built” gaining in manufacturing efficiency and QA/QC. MKoreover their small size lower costs means not only can they be sited close to demand, but more of them not only offers the benefits of redundancy, but insulates both generation and transport from terrorism attacks and physical events having significant effects.
Even better the concept provides a means to “burn” a significant amount of the current stocks of “spent fuel” as “seed” ! >PS
It’s all to clear. What puzzles me is his ‘Likeability’ score. Bill Clinton had some likability in that he’d be fun to party with. Obama has a less than zero ‘likability’ index but a high ‘Henpecked Douche Bag’ quotent.
Nobody was offering campaign cash to Obama that happened to own a LFTR company, Silly.
There is widespread interest in Thorium reactors whose operating principles are based on a patent held by an American who worked at Alamogordo (Livermore?). There are at least two American corporations working on a mini-reactor that could service a town of 30,000 or so. The Germans are interested as are the Saudis.
The reason this is not on the front burner is....(DRUMROLL)
THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY AND THE LEFTIST HOPLOPHOBES DOMINATING ALL ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENTS, INCLUDING THE RINO ESTABLISHMENT.
If we had plentiful, cheap electricity from these Thorium reactors, we could use coal liquifaction to meet all of our petroleum needs not covered by domestic drilling. Combined with exploiting our ever more plentiful natural gas reserves, all energy costs would drop, PRODUCTIVE (i.e. manufacturing) employment would skyrocket, and the need for the Welfare State would plummet.
In other words, all these “government is the only solution” people in both parties would look like the power-hungry/mad idiots they really are.
Can’t have that!
Well I’m sure our fearless leader is waiting for the patent to expire so evil USA will loose any advantage.
my understanding is that the cost of electricity produced by thorium would ultimately be 1/4-1/10 the cost of the cheapest current electricity produced by coal.
I’m sure that somebody much “smarter” than me could get that cost way up, then apply for subsidies to bring it back down to a “competitive” level.
Al Gore comes to mind.
It doesn’t seem to have a search so just applying a Google domain search to http://tickerforum.org/ doesn’t get me any info about the environmental regulations around THORIUM.
I’m pretty much sold on the reactor/energy aspect of this. I was hoping someone here might have insight into heavy rare earth mining industry.
I have no doubt that the thorium aspect, and environmental regulations are stifling HRE and associated manufacturing industry. But to what extent compared to overall environmental regulations of HRE refining? If thorium was NOT pulled up with HRE (becoming a “radioactive” liability) would the situation still be essentially the same?
Actually, tickerforum has a search, but Thorium is but one very peripheral issue discussed over there. Although, it’s not taken lightly, because the use of Thorium has a very direct national security context or connotation.
I am not sure quite what you are asking. Mining Thorium is fairly trivial, other than the fact that millions of tons of earth have to be moved. but that’s the same as copper or zinc or lead or tin or iron. It is 3-4x as prevalent in the earth’s crust as Uranium, and don’t forget that of that Uranium, only .7% is fissionable and requires costly processing to turn into U-235. Thorium is usable in reactors exactly as it comes out of the ground, with no further processing. All of it. Indeed, we could get all the thorium we’d need for half a dozen or so Th reactors simply by extracting it from the coal that we are already extracting and burning, sending that Thorium up coal power plant smokestacks so we can breathe it.
I really do not know where the US sits as far as rare earth mining. AFAIK, only miniscule amounts have been discovered on US soil, and of course, the economics of developing a very low output mine compare poorly to getting this stuff from the Chicoms.
When “power to the people” becomes a looming reality it seems a lot of elitists come out from under their rocks to oppose it !!
Can’t say as I agree with “coal gasification”, however. But therein lies the germ of another approach. With virtually unlimited energy, why not create gasoline/diesel from the current waste stream ? It contains carbons, water, short and long chain polymers, even gasses ! IOW, all that’s needed - except energy - create more fuel !
Gas and diesel are very valuable/viable fuels. Their energy content is high, but so is their safety factor. The infrastructure/consumer knowledge base for safe handling is well-distributed as folklore. Why fix “what ain’t broke” ? >PS
The environmentalists shut down the major US mine for these minerals but it is being reopened.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.