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What is Thorium ?

by Alan Daniel
What is Thorium ?

Just like all of the presidential candidates preparing for the 2020 re-election and making substantial promises, only a few have made more promises than entrepreneur turned politician Andrew Yang. Young is one candidate who endorses tech-based solutions for all societal problems. So much so that he‘s supported by prominent technology leaders such as Elon Musk of Tesla, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, and Sam Altman of Y Combinator.

Now Yang has many policies, but there is one specific proposal that stands out for its uniqueness, his stance on the energy sector.

Yang wants to take the United States out of the current fossil fuel-based era and transition to green energy. But what’s fascinating is how he seeks to achieve this objective. Andrew Yang wants the government to invest $50 billion in creating Thorium reactors.


What are Thorium Reactors?

Thorium molten salt reactors came about several decades ago. Yang is possibly the first potential leader in American history to talk about how this could make nuclear energy cost-effective, clean, and safe.

Is it just a mere aspiration or a real possibility within the near future?

After all, Andrew Yang’s policy promises a lot, and it raises a lot of practical questions on how exactly he means to make this possible. Further, is Thorium as significant and safe as he says it is?

According to Andrew Yang Thorium, a radioactive metal is superior to Uranium. He believes that not only is it a more economical choice but that it also has more energy potential than Uranium.

Unfortunately, this may be a false statement. Thorium is more abundant, it is fertile but remember, it is not fissile, and there’s one more problem, it is not quite cost-effective just yet.

You need fissile material to activate the right process to get the desired results in energy output. Thorium cannot be used as fuel directly because it does not have isotopes that fission and generate energy. Thorium is a fertile nucleus which can be transformed into uranium via a reactor. Therefore a plant that you set up for thorium to be a part of its fuel cycle would end using uranium-233 to make energy.

Yang is right in that thorium may provide sustainability over the long-term as it can have less toxic waste. There are benefits to using thorium, but companies must first work to solve challenges in the short term.

Sourcing Thorium

One can find thorium in rocks and varied soils. Further, one can source thorium from monazite, a phosphate mineral.

Countries such as Brazil, India, and other countries in Asia are known for their association with thorium extraction from monazite. Yet, again, unfortunately, at present, thorium extraction is done in limited quantities and may lack systems feasibility.

Nuclear Energy Production in the World Today

It is essential to note that nuclear energy production is a small segment of energy contribution today due to scares, such as the event at Fukushima. That makes it to where nuclear energy only powers about ten percent of the world’s energy today, according to World Nuclear Org.

Most nuclear power plants use uranium (U-235) as the input material for energy production. Still, emerging markets in countries like China and India may start to tap thorium reserves in nuclear energy based power production.

Invest in Thorium?

You can invest in thorium by having exposure to nuclear energy companies such as US Ecology, Inc, Cameco, Energy Fuels, and Uranium Energy, in addition to First Energy Corp, Nextera Energy Inc, and the Fluor Corporation.

Make sure to dive into the fundamentals of these companies, their current earnings, potential earnings, and warning signs before placing your hard-earned money into their shares.

Politicians have shied away from promoting nuclear energy growth, and this industry has quite a bit of way to go before it can become the standard.

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