China is about to start up a thorium reactor in the desert in the North of China. The output of the prototype is sufficient for merely 1000 homes. If the test delivers the desired results, an upscaled model will be designed to power 100,000 homes. In the long run, China intends to export this technology.
A few key data points concerning thorium: no plutonium, waste radio-active for 300, rather than tens of thousands of years, half-life 30 years, far more thorium reserves than uranium (think thousands of years), 1 gram thorium = 2500 liter gasoline. China and others think that commercial thorium reactors could be operational by 2040.
Is everything rosy? Perhaps, perhaps not. The main concern is that intense radiation and corrosive salts, combined with high temperatures, could damage the reactor over a few years. Only time will tell. But the world will be watching the developments in China with great interest.
[nature.com] – China prepares to test thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[livescience.com] – China is gearing up to activate commercial nuclear reactor
[france24.com] – Why China is developing a thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[wikipedia.org] – Thorium-based nuclear power
[wikipedia.org] – Occurrence of thorium
[volkskrant.nl] – China een stap dichter bij een thorium reactor
[Google Maps] – Wuwei, location thorium reactor