Energy disputes will most likely cause the next world war as standard of living increases in Asia place greater demand on limite resources.
China is pursuing a type of nuclear reactor that holds the promise of cheap endless power.
This reactor consumes nuclear waste and material from atomic bombs. The resulting nuclear waste is cooler and is less biologically active than waste from conventional nuclear power plants (safer).
Thorium and plutonium are mixed with salt and liquified. Radioactive decay produces heat and the hot salt slurry is circulated to produce electrical power from steam. It is light enough and small enough to be portable.
By contrast, conventional fuel rods from boiling water reactors, like Fukishima, remain hot enough to require liquid cooling for years because of radioactive cesium decay. Radioactive iodine gas is the primary risk, and radioactive cesium from Fukishima has been found in kelp off the California coast.
Thorium is not without risks.
This kind of nuclear plant had a melted-down and disbursed high level radioactive contamination about 30 miles west of Hollywood in 1959.
- California's Historic Nuclear Meltdown
- '59 Nuclear Reactor Incident Remains ...
- A Nuclear Incident Worse Than Three Mile Island
Thorium reactors are light and this prototype was part of a program intended to produce aircraft capable of weeks of sustained flight without refueling.
The program was partially shut down by Eisenhower after the accident, which was upwind from Richard Nixon's home. Nixon cancelled the program shortly after he became president.
This could reduce global warming if the challenges can be solved.