Renewable Green Nuclear Energy: Here, Now
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama declared: "I will not walk away from clean energy[.] ... After all, innovation is what America has always been about[.] ... This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy -- a strategy that's cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs."
President Obama may not walk away from clean energy, but he has turned his back on an innovative American-made nuclear technology meeting all the above criteria and much more.
Yes, renewable green nuclear technology does exist. It was invented in Oak Ridge, Tennessee decades ago!
During the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, ORNL developed a Thorium-Based MSR, or Molten Salt Reactor. This remarkable new-age nuclear technology dispels every environmentalist fear used to denigrate a true American innovation. The Oak Ridge MSRE (Molten Salt Reactor Experiment), developed as a means to power aircraft due to its compact size and the relative safety of molten salt fuel, was successfully operational from 1965 to 1969. However, a nuclear reactor that is unable to produce bomb-grade material made this technology unattractive in a Cold War world.
The Oak Ridge MSRE was decommissioned in December 1969 by simply being turned off. The thermal safety plug made of ice melted, allowing gravity to drain the molten salt fuel into a containment tank. No meltdown occurred like at Fukushima. No concrete sarcophagus was required like at Chernobyl. No damaged reactor taken offline like on Three Mile Island. Twenty-five years later, the nuclear salt was readily processed and shipped with minimal risk to a storage facility, where it will be inert and totally safe in about two hundred years.
Now, in 2012, MSRs have so much more to offer! MSRs produce energy by adding Uranium-235 to thorium fluoride salts. The United States has large deposits of thorium -- enough material to power our electricity needs for thousands of years.
MSRs do not have the threat of a meltdown. With no nuclear core or control rods, water is not needed to cool them in an emergency. It simply cannot melt down.
MSRs remove the fear of nuclear weapons proliferation and can use decommissioned nuclear warheads as fuel, rendering the bomb-grade material so inert that it cannot be used even as a dirty bomb.
This renewable green nuclear energy can recycle the dangerous worldwide stockpile of spent nuclear fuel. Using discarded nuclear material, MSRs create electricity while rendering the radioactivity to less than 1% of the waste a current light water reactor produces. When the low-grade spent material is processed, it can be transported and stored without containment, becoming safe in a few hundred years, not thousands.
Due to the resilience of the salt substrate, the rector's heat can be extracted in graphite heat exchangers without passing the radiation to the generator turbines. Construction and operation costs are significantly reduced because the power cycle is outside the containment sphere.
When the electrical demand is low, an MSR can shift gears to cost-effective electrolysis of water producing a truly green and renewable fuel: hydrogen.
Integrating with another American innovation from Los Alamos, MSRs can sequester CO2 out of the atmosphere while producing a cleaner-burning synthetic fuel alternative to gasoline. They call it Green FreedomTM.
Is it not shocking that this technology is never mentioned in the green energy movement? Allison Fisher of Public Citizen calls nuclear power "a failed and dangerous technology," making no mention of the success of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories' MSRE or the Los Alamos Green Freedom technology on the Public Citizen's website.
No other country to date has been able to successfully harness the greatest innovation since fire.
Why? It's the same reason why no other country has landed on the moon: none of them possesses the technical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit found in the United States of America.
The choice is simple: we can continue to bury our heads in the Arabian sand, spending ourselves blind waiting for Mother Nature to reveal the secret of green energy alchemy. Or we can develop true renewable green nuclear energy as the fuel for America's economic recovery.
AlanAszkler@gmail.com believes that it's time to allow American ingenuity to restore our economy with American exceptionalism!