The Passion of Alvin Weinberg

The Humanitarian Behind China's Great Thorium Push

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When four top climate scientists released a letter last November urging the expansion of safe nuclear power to fight climate change, the world took note. But few people realize that more than 40 years previously, and a decade before James Hansen’s high-profile testimony before Congress, one of America’s leading nuclear engineers was speaking out on the looming prospect of global warming. Alvin Weinberg spent much of his early career pushing for his thorium-fueled, molten salt nuclear reactor design – much to the chagrin of the industry – but when the government abandoned it, he began to broadly advocate nuclear power as a way to provide abundant electricity for an energy-hungry world and wean the US off fossil fuels. It took 40 years, but a new generation of engineers concerned about climate change is rediscovering Weinberg and his design. That the Chinese government has invested $350 million in a new molten-salt project shows just how significant Weinberg’s impact has been on the broader development of nuclear.

February 5, 2014 | Robert Hargraves,

To read a translation of this article in French, click here.
 

The 59-year-old physicist was in something of a panic. The earth was getting hotter, and nobody in Washington seemed to care. Nuclear power — the only realistic way to produce a lot of electricity with few carbon emissions — was the solution. But rising costs for nuclear power and the power of the coal lobby appeared to be trumping environmental concerns, and rationality itself.

He started writing articles. The first he published in Science. It was called “Global Effects of Man’s Production of Energy.” Next, he co-authored an article evaluating what would happen if the U.S. moved away from nuclear. “Continued energy demands during the first few decades of the next century will push atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to levels which warrant serious concern, even for the low energy growth case.”

The problem was time. “The inertial effect in energy supply systems makes it clear that decisions made now on the nuclear / nonnuclear issue,” the man wrote, “will have an impact reaching many years into the future.” In other words, future generations depend on the decisions we make today about energy.

The physicist went to the Capitol, seeking supporters. “I went from office to office in Washington, curves of the carbon dioxide buildup in hand,” the man recalled. “I reminded them that nuclear energy was on the verge of dying. Something must be done. I almost screamed.”

The year was 1974, and the man’s name was Dr. Alvin Weinberg. A veteran of the Manhattan Project and the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Weinberg created the prototype for a new kind of nuclear energy source, one that can’t melt down nor make useful weapons.

Where the vast majority of today’s nuclear reactors are cooled by plain old water, Weinberg invented a radically new reactor cooled by molten salt. Loss of coolant was behind the meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Fukushima. By contrast, Weinberg’s reactor could not melt down because the fuel was already melted and dissolved in the molten salt coolant itself.

If you want to understand why nuclear energy from thorium and cooled by molten salt has aroused the passion of American scientists and engineers, as well as the Chinese government, which recently invested $350 million in a new molten-salt project, then you have to understand the life and times of Alvin Weinberg.

1.

Alvin Weinberg was born in Chicago in 1915 and earned his PhD in physics in 1939 from the University of Chicago. His master’s thesis dealt with the infrared absorption spectrum of CO2, presaging his later efforts to warn of global warming. At the University Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory he rubbed shoulders with physicists Edward Teller, Leo Szilard, and Nobel-prize-winners Arthur Compton, Eugene Wigner, and Enrico Fermi. Soon after he was working to help build the Bomb. In a 1944 memo he advanced the idea of harnessing nuclear energy for power, “…it may be possible to run such a system under pressure and obtain high-pressure steam which could be used for power production.”

In 1945, after the war, Weinberg went to work for Oak Ridge National Laboratories. There he persuaded Navy Admiral Hyman Rickover that a water-cooled reactor would work better on submarines — an achievement he was ambivalent about since it led to the use of water as coolant for civilian nuclear power reactors. “Thus was born the pressurized-water reactor, not as a commercial power plant, and not because it was cheap or inherently safer than other reactors, but rather because it was compact and simple and lent itself to naval propulsion,” he wrote wistfully.

The Air Force tasked him with building a nuclear-powered airplane. Powering a jet engine requires 860°C heat — far higher than the 315°C temperature achieved by water-cooled reactors. Weinberg’s team hit on the idea of a molten mixture of zirconium and sodium fluorides into which they put the uranium fuel. The stable fluoride salts did not corrode the stainless steel container. And because the salt would stay liquid at atmospheric pressure even at 1400°C, there could be no radioactivity release from overheating. 

The experiment worked. In 1954 this Aircraft Reactor Experiment produced 2.5 MW of thermal power at red-hot 860°C for 100 hours. It demonstrated intrinsic reactivity stability, automatically adjusting power with no control rods, as the heat exchanger airflow varied. But in the end it made more sense for power generation than for powering aircrafts (which to this day are powered by kerosene).

In 1955, at the age of 40, Weinberg became the director of Oak Ridge. By 1966, Weinberg’s Oak Ridge team had a prototype of uranium dissolved in the molten fluoride salts of lithium and beryllium, which ran until 1969.

Weinberg was thrilled. Such a reactor could provide the world with limitless energy and allow it to protect the environment. It could create electricity for the poor and freshwater from seawater. And if thorium rather than uranium were used, we would never run out of fuel, as the element is abundant in the Earth’s surface.

2.

Weinberg was more focused than his colleagues on safety and was dismayed that reactors based on a design made for submarines had achieved dominance over the market. “The boiler band wagon has so much pressure that everyone climbed on it, pell mell,” he remarked later.

In 1959 he established the journal Nuclear Safety, and he put one hundred scientists and engineers at Oak Ridge on safety research. As nuclear reactors became larger, Weinberg’s Lab expressed concerns that in a loss-of-cooling accident — like the kind behind the nuclear accidents at TMI and Fukushima — residual afterheat, not a continuing chain reaction, might breach all three barriers.

Throughout the early ‘60s, Weinberg and his colleagues conducted a series of tests that surfaced safety flaws in the light-water reactor design. Superior safety was very important to Weinberg: to him, a molten salt reactor that used thorium fuel would provide immense benefits over light-water designs. As a coolant, atmospheric-pressure molten salt withstands much higher temperatures and reduces mechanical stress upon the reactor vessel. As a fuel, thorium cannot be used to build useful weapons; in a reactor it can breed new uranium fuel that is consumed to produce energy.

Weinberg’s innovations extended beyond molten-salt reactors. Oak Ridge’s safety work influenced the creation of the high-temperature gas-cooled pebble-bed reactor operating at Tsinghua University in China. And the new nuclear plants being built in Georgia incorporate passive safety features. The Westinghouse AP1000 overhead water reservoir can cool a powerless reactor for three days after shutdown. The B&W mPower continues passive cooling for three days on battery power. And the smaller NuScale reactor, funded by the Department of Energy, continues with air cooling indefinitely after its water reservoir boils away.

But Weinberg’s obsession with safety rubbed some of his colleagues the wrong way. The chair of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in 1970 was outraged at Weinberg’s efforts with Senators Howard Baker and Edmund Muskie to establish a National Environmental Laboratory at Oak Ridge. Holifield “didn’t want nuclear labs tainted with the environmentalist brush,” Weinberg recalled. Holifield told him, “Alvin, if you are concerned about the safety of reactors, then I think it may be time for you to leave nuclear energy.” Weinberg was fired shortly thereafter. Six years later, the Three Mile Island meltdown occurred.

3.

In the fall of 2013, four of the world’s leading climate scientists including former NASA scientist James Hansen sent an open letter to environmentalists, asking that they reverse their opposition to nuclear power in order to save the climate. The letter was treated as something of a novelty in the media. Environmental scientists — for nuclear power? What a strange thing.

And yet there was Dr. Weinberg, one of America’s most respected scientists, making the climate case for nuclear power nearly 40 years before the open letter and a decade and half before Hansen famously told reporters that his scientific colleagues should stop “waffling” and acknowledge that humans were changing the climate.

Climate and energy for Weinberg and many after him are two sides of the same coin. After a stint as Director of the US Office of Energy Research and Development in 1974 Weinberg had managed to found the Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, concerned with the future of energy. IEA invented today’s energy-return-on-investment (EROI) analysis concept.

In 1976 at IEA Weinberg predicted that “…atmospheric concentration of 375-390 ppm may well be a threshold range at which climate change from CO2 effects will be separable from natural climate fluctuations … The consequences of an increase of this magnitude in atmospheric CO2 make it prudent to proceed cautiously in the large-scale use of fossil fuels."

Weinberg’s view of energy stood in marked contrast to the views held by antinuclear greens who argued that poor people across the globe wouldn’t benefit from cheap, reliable electricity. “Giving society cheap, abundant energy,” Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in 1975, “would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” Weinberg fiercely argued the opposite: low-energy societies were far less free and “probably suffer from more pollution of air and water and urban environments than do high-energy societies.” More, not less, energy was central to well-being.

A new generation of engineers concerned about climate change are rediscovering Weinberg and his design. Bill Gates’s company TerraPower is investigating molten salt reactors. MIT engineer Leslie Dewan co-founded Transatomic Power, which uses a MSR design. And former NASA employee Kirk Sorensen published the original Oak Ridge R&D documents on the Internet, and started Flibe Energy.

The technology has aroused global interest. Former antinuke environmentalist Baroness Bryony Worthington helped found the London-based Weinberg Foundation, to “re-catalyze the research, development and deployment of MSRs first designed, built and proven by Alvin Weinberg … to combat climate change.” And an article I wrote in American Scientist in 2012 sparked the Chinese Academy of Science’s undertaking its $350 million development project announced last year.

With the open letter from climate scientists, a growing number of environmentalists calling for nuclear power, and a growing number of philanthropists like Bill Gates and Paul Allen investing in next generation nuclear, the altruism that originally motivated nuclear scientists and engineers is finally coming to redefine nuclear power. “What made him unique,” said Alexander Zucker, a physics professor and colleague of Weinberg’s, “was his profound concern for the welfare of man. He never stopped thinking about it.”

 

Robert Hargraves is the author of THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal. 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). 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, and beyond. For a more detailed history of Weinberg's work at the ORNL, read an accompanying piece by Hargraves at Atomic Insights.


Comments

  • The more I read about Alvin Weinberg, the more I think I should be reading his books.

    By Martin E Kral on 2014 02 05

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    • Here you go Martin, copy and paste:
      Alvin Weinberg “The First Nuclear Age- the life and times of a techological fixer”
      1994, American Institute of Physics.
      It’s a good read.  I got my copy a few years ago.  I met Robert Hargraves at a conference recently and he signed my copy of Weinberg’s book.  While your at it, get a copy of Robert’s book “Thorium: energy cheaper than coal”  It’s an even better read! He signed my copy of his book too for the record. 

      By Scott Medwid on 2014 02 06

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    • His books are amazing. i recommend starting with this one: http://www.amazon.com/The-First-Nuclear-Era-Technological/dp/1563963582

      By Yvonne Mills on 2014 03 25

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      • Done. I’m now reading everything about the Manhattan Project. There is a mini-series documentary being filmed right now that will be on Cable this summer. There will be lots on interviews with the old guys that were there.

        By Martin Kral on 2014 03 26

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  • Isn’t Bill Gates advocating the Traveling Wave design? That’s far more complex than the LFTR designs and perhaps as or more dangerous than the current fleet of PWR plants.

    By Ken on 2014 02 05

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  • Thanks Robert. Molten Salt Reactors and Liquid Metal Fast Reactors are fascinating technology which in an ideal world should be pursued with all vigor. In an ideal world they would have been so pursued 20, 30, 40 years ago. Today’s world is not ideal, and one hopes enamourment with such “inherently safe” Generation IV technologies does not distract us from the urgent climate catastrophe confronting us today. Generation III+ light-water reactors are what are licensed and available for manufacture now. Westinghouse’ probabilistic risk analysis places AP1000 core damage frequency (CDF) at 5E-07 per plant per year, and large radiation release frequency (LRF) at 6E-08 per plant per year, or mtbf of about 17 million years—3,000 years if the world were to construct 5,000 such plants. Such fails, though certainly more than a Genuine Nuisance as witnessed by Fukushima, are lost in the noise of the permanent devastation being wrought by carbon emission. And 5,000 Gen III+ plants cannot be built overnight; incremental improvements will bring additional safety and of course any plant must eventually retire. That Gen IV MSR and FR designs might (one hopes!) be available for commercial deployment within ten or twenty years must not be made excuse to dawdle today. Time is of the essence.

    “Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.” -Hyman Rickover

    By Ed Leaver on 2014 02 05

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  • As long as there is Oil, there will be little development in this field. Such reactors could be built in the average garage and still leave room for cars. Eventually, someone will do it clandestinely, then another and another… Then people will begin to buy electric vehicles and recharge them at home (for a very small cost). Rockefeller, Pickens and others, won’t like that… as their money is in Oil… The Atomic Energy Commission was established to prevent the rest of the world from developing any for of Nuclear power, without it’s authorization, even if it is as harmless a the molten salt reactor, it’s still nuclear, by definition… The process will have to start in another country and grow from there… hence China and India’s interest in the program.

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 06

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  • I don’t envision MSRs will be small enough to fit a garage. Nuclear oil is an attractive goal. The high temperature of the MSR reactor facilitates production of hydrogen, a feedstock for synthetic liquid fuels. Indeed the Chinese Academy of Science project includes prototype methanol synthesis.

    By Robert Hargraves on 2014 02 06

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    • Actually, the first systems were designed to power submarines and aircraft, so it is not only feasible, but probable. Designs have also been forewarded to fit on a flatbed (portable systems for the oil industry and others). Such LFTR systems could be used to power neighbourhoods, farms and thousands of other profiles. Thanks for your input.

      By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 06

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  • A more detailed description of Alvin Weinberg’s work and the molten salt reactor has just been published at Atomic Insights, http://atomicinsights.com/alvin-weinbergs-liquid-fuel-reactors-part-1/

    By Robert Hargraves on 2014 02 06

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  • I will say something about this report… Weinberg said absolutely Nothing about Global Warming, in fact quite the opposite. In 1974 he was living in the coldest times since the 1920’s… At that time the environmental scientists were suggesting spreading coal dust over the arctic to help stave off the coming Iceage, which they thought was upon us… It bothers me when writers ake perfectlygood subjects and stuff BS into articles…

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 06

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    • Alvin Weinberg wrote about CO2 and climate warming.  He also wrote about desalinating sea water as a byproduct of MSR electrical generation to hydrate arid lands in poor areas of the world.  He worried about the future of humanity on a climate destabilized planet.  But don’t take my word or it.  Read his autobiography yourself.  I bought my own copy and I read it.  You an too.  Amazon.com has it.  I promise you’ll learn a thing or two, I did. 
      Copy and paste the following:
      Alvin Weinberg “The First Nuclear Age- the life and times of a techological fixer”
      1994, American Institute of Physics.

      By Scott Medwid on 2014 02 06

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  • Darryl, the quote is from Weinberg’s own book.

    “…atmospheric concentration of 375-390 ppm may well be a threshold range at which climate change from CO2 effects will be separable from natural climate fluctuations … The consequences of an increase of this magnitude in atmospheric CO2 make it prudent to proceed cautiously in the large-scale use of fossil fuels.”

    There is more in the expanded article at
    http://atomicinsights.com/alvin-weinbergs-liquid-fuel-reactors-part-1/#more-13920 with a few more sources.

    By Robert Hargraves on 2014 02 06

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  • Firstly, Weinberg was a physicist, Not a Climate Scientist… and certainly not a botanist… Anyone with a resonable edcation knows that 1) Plants grow best when CO2 levels are more than 1000 ppm 2) Plants produce more oxygen when CO2 levels exceed 1000 ppm… 3) NASA recently reported that increased levels of CO2, cooled the planet…

    CO2 is good for the planet and personally, I would like to see higher levels of CO2 and some of this Global Warming… Where I live in Alberta, Canada, it’s -22C as I type… The Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing the coldest temperatures since the 1980’s and industry has been pumping out the CO2 in massive doses…

    Moreover, it was recently discovered that the IPCC used inacruate data in formulating the earth temperatures as far back as the 1980’s, by reducing the average temp by 1 degree, thereby making any subsequent temps appear to be 1 degree warmer than they actually were…

    Now back to the article… I visited the web site at the end of your last comment and discovered that You authored that document… To me, that’s tantamount to saying, “If you don’t believe me - just ask me”... As soon as I saw your name in the authorship of the document, I dismissed it… To me, you have ZERO credibility… I will not waste my time by responding to any further comments or replies… You appear to have an agenda that I am not onboard with…

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 06

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    • Living in Alberta could you be employed in tar sands extraction. Agenda indeed.

      By paul randall on 2014 02 07

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    • Darryl, you appear to be unaware of who Alvin Weinberg really was.  First his PhD was in Biology, Physics and Math.  Secondly Weinberg had botanists on the ORNL staff and they would have advised him.  Thirdly, Jerry Olsen was an expert on the CO2 cycle, and the effects of CO2 on climate and plant life.  Olsen briefed Weinberg and Weinberg acted to organize an ORNL responce to the information which Olsen brought to his attention.

      Later when he was at ORAU, he criticized Amory Lovins, for his failure to recognize the contribution that Nuclear Energy would make to fighting CO2 emissions and climate change.

      Weinberg also noted some of the potential problems of using solar generated power.

      By Charles Barton on 2014 02 09

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  • Sorry you’re having difficulty with Canadian weather, David. Perhaps you can immigrate to Australia for the duration?

    By Ed Leaver on 2014 02 06

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    • Ed,  He could move to point Barrow Alaska.  I just checked; Right at this moment it’s warmer there at -17 degrees Celsius. Perhaps anthropogenic climate change simply doesn’t happen where the sun don’t shine.  Our friend is safe.

      By John Chatelle on 2014 02 06

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  • I find it very unfortunate that people can take a perfectly good technology with no need to appologize for itself and try to justify its need with fony arguements… It sounds like Thorium will go nowhere if it’s need is not substantiated by some quack science… The “need” looses credibility when LFTR is used in the same sentence as Climate Change… May I suggest that you distance the arguments for LFTR from quack science and focus on Thorium as a NEEDED energy source, which can stand on it’s own.

    People have grown up to the fact that the IPCC writes it’s own data and if the organization saw the need to promote its agenda, it would make Weinberg into a single mother of three… Things he might have stated obiter dictum, are taken to be the whole focus of his studies… Don’t try to rewrite the history books for the sake of supporting a technology, which needs no support beyond itself… Pushing fony agendas in support of it says that it needs every bit of support it can get regardless of the truth behind it…

    Weinberg was a visionary however, he was still a human and the world he was living in was gripped in the fear of another Iceage. When every Scientist in the world was looking for ways to stop the coming Iceage, anyone who thinks that Weinberg was thinking differently, is dilusional… If he saw CO2 as the cause of global warming, every other scientist in the world would have been talking about it, as that would have been the Cure they were looking for… The fact of the matter is, No one saw CO2 as a serious contender for reversing Global Cooling… Or every scientist, newpaper would have grabbed the idea and published it… That’s the scientific way… That is also being human… However, instead of utilizing CO2 as a means of reversing global cooling, the idea was put forth to spread Coal Dust over the arctic to absort sunlight… No mention of CO2… Keep in mind that I was there… I’m an old fart, who happens to chew the meat and spit out the bones…

    The greatest thing holding back LFTR and Thorium is the Oil Industry… I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, where Oil is king… I would love to see Thorium developed, but it’s not going to happen so long as there is a liter of oil in the ground. A proposed Nuclear Energy project was shelved, here, because of that reason… Here is how deep it goes… The Highway speed limits were increased, several years ago, so that people would burn more gasoline… Oil is the enemy of Thorium and I can’t think of any western government that is about to displace Oil with Thorium… The politicians are paid too much to rock the boat… and global warming is a lame argument… When the time has come that the world NEEDS Thorium, it will happen and until then it’s just a dream…

    Now consider this… Thorium can happen… It will take people building their own systems, with or without Government deregulation or permission. As I said at the outset, LFTR was originally designed to be built “small”, to power aircraft, suberines, etc… That was Weinberg’s mandate… Making a system that any farmer could build, is the key in these times… To give you a real-life example…

    I am currently building a 3D Printer with Metal Deposition, very similar to welding, but a system that can be built and run on a kitchen table… for less than $2000.00. LFTR can do likewise… The thing is… I don’t just talk… I DO…

    Please!!! Stop trying to support LFTR and Thorium with BS justification… It damages the cause more than helping it. This is about LFTR and Thorium… It should have nothing to do with anything else… Focus on ways to make it happen, not on ways to justify it. The justification is already there… Now the world needs people’s genius and energies put into ways of making it happen…

    Perhaps someone will find a country like Uruguay, where portable systems can be built and shipped world-wide… The Thorium is everywhere, so that’s the least concern… Okay… I’ll shut-up now…

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 09

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    • Darryl, I am new to this.  I had never heard of Thorium and I am an old fart too.  I would love to know more about this technology.  Any insight you have on this would be greatly appreciated.

      By Bill Lanning on 2014 10 22

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  • Darryl, you make the good point that even without trying the solve a global warming crisis, the thorium MSR technology makes sense. The economic advantage is implicit in the title of the book, THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal. Simply reducing the cost of energy in OECD nations can improve economic productivity and GDP; this can enable increased tax revenues that are necessary to solve the severe national debt crises of most of the worlds economies—not just that of the US. Preliminary cost estimates of one developer predict electricity costs in the 3-5 cents/kWh range. That’s competitive with coal globally and with natural gas everywhere except the US, but I expect natural gas prices here to rise beyond $4/MBTU to $6-8/MBTU—the cost of production of new shale gas wells.

    By Robert Hargraves on 2014 02 09

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  • There is a fundamental problem… We have the same problem in Canada, along with most countries of the world. We all have central banks, which charge compounded interest to the Governments. Prior to 1913, the USA had Zero debt, as did Canada until 1974. The central banks are owned by the same people who own the Oil companies. Any thought of paying down the National debt will be met with hostility from Bankers. You know what happens when people fly in the face of Banking interests. Lincoln and JFK attempted to print Government currency… You know what happened to them… Richard Nixon killed the Gold Standard and introduced the Oil Dollar… Both Moammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein pushed to restore Gold and trade Oil for Gold and met the same fate. And now Syria & Iran are trading Oil for gold…

    For LFTR/Thorium/MSR to go anywhere, it cannot happen under the watchful eyes of the Banks, who have Billions at stake. That is why I said at the outset that it would have to be done clandestinely… The Banks have more assassins than LFTR/MSR has supporters. They buy and sell Armies and nations. The only way to push such technology through is to make it happen at the grass roots (citizenry) forcing it to happen or clandestinely.

    However, there is not enough support for LFTR/Thorium/MSR to raise the army needed to stand up to the Government or Banking interests… China and India are developing MSR because the run energy deficits and have huge populations. China has put $350 million into developing the technology. Now consider this…

    Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann discovered Cold Fusion in the late ‘80s and since then, huge strides have been made in the field. See: http://coldfusionnow.org/

    The big difference between Cold Fusion and LFTR/MSR is that Cold Fusion is not regulated by the AEC. In fact, by it being discredited and viewed as quack science, they did the world a favour… Today, research is going on without any form of oversight. That is a wonderful position to be in and it’s technology that a person can build on the kitchen table… The People, the Republic can make it happen, the Government or Banks would not.

    Instead of beating your head against the wall with LFTR/MSR, look at Cold Fusion as, if not THE answer, an answer… It can be huge before any Oil interests take notice… It could be in every home without Government oversight and the Oil companies would only be scratching their heads wondering why their revenues were falling…

    I am currently watching the lectures from the MIT conference on Cold Fusion and the speakers are some of the most brilliant minds in Physics… This is the first day of the conference http://youtu.be/f0aXShVzGNg

    All of the videos are in the ColdFusionNow web site, but you can access them right from this… You will be amazed… In closing I will try to enlighten you as to my mindset…

    What is the USA and Canada…??? Is it the People or the Dirt…??? Are we so concerned about a piece of dirt that we stake it out with imaginary boarders or are we the People who make up the countries? From the ISS no one can see those boarders… When we look at a picture of the earth as seen from space, can anyone discern Germany from Holland or Russia from China? Of course not… So, globally, are we concerned with the Petro Dollar or the boarders or who owns what piece of dirt? I hope not…

    If our first concern is CO2 and Climate Change, then that is a noble cause, but if it’s only to make a distinction about who is right or wrong or who is on the side of good or bad, then that is a huge waist of effort… If the whole world can benefit from China and India developing LFTR/MSR, then that is great too… I want to see everyone profit by the technology, not only the US or Canadian populations, because, fundamentally the countries are just pieces of dirt. Having said that, it should be clear that I am more interested in all of humanity and Freedom than I am in a piece of dirt… I can move to another piece of dirt… but I may not be able to take Freedom with me… so, in that regard it’s all about People… Not dirt… People define Freedom and energy is Freedom, not boarders or who is right or wrong…

    So, I think about LFTR/MSR, but I am neither married to it or own it. If another technology can give people Freedom, then I am on board… LFTR/MSR is one technology, but not the only technology… If I were to consider taking someone to court, would I spend $5000 to get $1000 just for the sake of winning…? Would you? That’s why I watch LFTR/MSR, but I am not going to donate my time, efforts or money to the cause, as I think it would be a waste… To me, it’s just a different piece of dirt, with too many boarders. Water follows the path of least resistance and I think Cold Fusion is one such path. I see LFTR/MSR as water trying to flow uphill…

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 09

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    • Darryl, I know exactly where you are coming from. Have you read or viewed any of Alex Epstien’s work. I studied LENR for about 3 months last year and keep taps on it now too. I write short newspaper columns about energy, all of the above, and how mankind has benefited greatly from them. I do this because I am also an old fart who likes to study all the sciences. Thanks for your detail thoughts.

      By Martin Kral on 2014 11 22

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  • In Switzerland some physicists of the CERN (see the iThec group) are working on an improved Rubbiatron project. In less than 20 years China will sell us the first Thorium power plants.
    It is ONLY a political decision.
    If you understand French watch this tedxparis video:
    http://youtu.be/Z0G8QxaYRds

     

    By Penelope on 2014 02 10

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  • Unfortunately, my French is not up to the level necessary to understand the technical terms. My Chinese is better than my French… lol Although, I probably know more French than I think I do. I just never use it…

    If I remember correctly, Weinberg still holds the patents on MSR and LFTR, so the Chinese will only be able to develop a system that is either an Inmprovement on Weinberg’s or an entirely new method. And even if they do reach a point where they are able to Sell their systems to the West, they still have to get approval from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to bring them into the USA or Canada… So, I think it’s unlikely to happen. Having said that, I think it would be wonderful for China and India to succeed. The polution in China is so bad that they NEED a clean energy source. In fact, there is airborn polution coming to North America from China, not to mention the water that is spewed into the ocean is so contaminated with heavey metals that you can’t drink it, even after treatment.

    One good thing to come out of their polution is, they make the best and cheapest water filters, on the planet… and the best and cheapest resperators, dust masks, etc. Unfortunately, the fish can’t wear them and water filters don’t do anything for them either…

    Going back to alternative (clean) energy sources… I have my nose into many of them, from Tesla designs to Cavitation… Splitting the water molecule is an expensive task, so any posative or surplus energy from a system, even if it’s only 1%, is a system that has utility… One thing is for sure… Like it or not, we are in a race to find such systems…

    The NWO has a huge push on to bring the world under the control of the Banks. We, the People must stop them, speaking of “Political decisions”... I am confident that the plans of Agenda 21 can be and will be thwarted and the NWO will be SOL… When the “colective genius of the masses” goes to work, nothing can stand it’s relentless force. WWII was a prime example of People rising up against terrany… It will happen again. Whether we know it or not, we are at War against Terrany… but now, it is not a matter of “Survival of the Strongest”... It’s survival of the “Smartest”.

    We are all connected… Some call it “quantum entanglement”, some call it “action at a distance”, but we are all connected and my ideas become yours, simply by thinking about them… Someone - somewhere is resolving problems that no one else can. Man is a collective and part of the Universe. If we quiet our minds and listen, all of the questions and answers will flow between us.

    There is a Hillbilly in the Ozarks who knows exactly, what I’m talking about… He doesn’t have a computer or the Internet, so his thoughts are his means of communicating with the rest of the world. The funny part is, he doesn’t know that he’s being heard…

    There is a native in the jungle, in Borneo, looking up at the stars and thinking about what makes the whole world and universe connected. Btw: it’s 12:45 PM there… as if it mattered… The point is, we will find the answers to our question and those who plot terrany will fail, thanks to people like us… Whether it’s Thorium, or Cavitation, or Tesla, or Cold Fusion, it will happen.

    One of my contributions is my 3D Metal Deposition system. It will be “Open Source”. Meaning, I will be giving the technology away, freely, to everyone in the world. Currently 3D Printing on the kitchen table, is restricted to plastic objects. Soon, a couple of months, people will be able to make anything they can dream up, out of steel, or copper, or titanium… and I will be giving it away, because it’s too important, to the world, to be held by any one person or company, under a patent… A clean energy source must be approched with the same mindset…

    By Darryl Sinclair on 2014 02 10

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    • A world without national borders? That will be a tough sell. The internet is, in effect, thoughts without borders. You are in Canada and I am in New Mexico. MOOC is an access to Universities without borders. I take 6 courses a year and most of the people registered are from other countries. The comment sections are primarily English but the thoughts are universal and cultural.

      By Martin Kral on 2014 11 22

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  • International Thorium research is on its way with different types of power plants. The Rubbiatron will be effective with the advantage of destroying nuclear waste. A video from the CERN :

    http://youtu.be/YUOP1JDlDS8

    By Penelope on 2014 02 13

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  • This as well as fusion at ITER project are our only hope…Alvin Radkowsy was also a visionary in thorium fuel…Shalom

    By james ainoris on 2014 11 20

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  • Cold Fusion?  Destruction of nuclear waste?  Thorium reactors in a closet that run entirely of thorium?  You people are idiots.  Cold fusion has been repeatedly shown to be a hoax since the original Pons & Fleishman Utah experiments were discredited because nobody anywhere could replicate their experiments.  The two of them moved to France after they blew through $40 million with absolutely nothing to show for it except various conspiracy theories imagined against them.  As for your moron theories about eliminating nuclear waste for the betterment of humanity, this is strong evidence that you fundamentally misunderstand the entire concept of thorium reaction for energy production.  Thorium does not have enough neutrons to sustain any reaction of any kind.  Thorium reactors can sustain reaction with the addition of enough added neutrons; with atomic “waste” being the most likely contributor of these needed additional neutrons.  Edward Teller completely outlined in the 1950’s (available on the internet for free—google it) an underground thorium reactor using specially (nuclear waste) entrained fuel pellets moderated automatically by lithium.  It is quite similar to the design Bill Gates is backing.  Upon its completion of a 30 year cycle of generating electricity underground, the Teller thorium reactor would be disconnected from the grid, and filled in with concrete, as per design, and ignored due to its very very low levels of radiation.  The thorium cycle is quite similar to the uranium cycle, and for you dopes telling people that zero radiation is the result of a thorium reactor belies your ignorance on the subject.  Thorium reactors are the way of the future, and they are safer than uranium cycle reactors.  However, you fools and your disinformation will not be a part of that future.  Thorium was known to the originators of nuclear power who built the first atomic bombs. and they knew that a stockpile of neutrons was essential for the future of safe “thorium power” for future generations.  And you really all need to study history.  While Al Gore and that other idiot was writing books on the coming ice age, Edward Teller was writing books on the need for thorium power to combat global warming caused by burning coal for power.  And, he had a last ditch effort solution to cool the earth when people finally woke up and realized what they had done to the earth’s climate and air quality by shutting down nuclear power.

    By Willy Reid on 2015 07 10

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