Reuters is running a series titled Breakout: Inside China’s Military Buildout. Installment number 6 is titled The U.S. government lab behind Beijing’s nuclear power push. The title is misleading; it is not about China’s world-leading, multibillion-dollar program. That program includes 29 large commercial nuclear plants currently under construction. Instead, the article focuses on a $350 million research program to evaluate the use of thorium as an alternative nuclear fission fuel source.
The Reuters piece includes a number of statements about the comparison between thorium and uranium that are debatable, at best, but whose source should be obvious to anyone that has been involved in any discussions with thorium advocates. It neglects the fact that uranium and thorium produce approximately the same mix of radioactive fission products. Systems using thorium need to pay just as much attention to decay heat removal as systems using uranium.
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