The following article was posted in the UKs Telegraph
quote:If Barack Obama were to marshal America’s vast scientific and strategic resources behind a new Manhattan Project, he might reasonably hope to reinvent the global energy landscape and sketch an end to our dependence on fossil fuels within three to five years.
Ok, I'm assuming that they mean we can start the process within 3-5 years. It would take 20 years of reactor building and fossil fuel plant decommissioning to radically change the US's power market.
quote:We could then stop arguing about wind mills, deepwater drilling, IPCC hockey sticks, or strategic reliance on the Kremlin. History will move on fast.
Muddling on with the status quo is not a grown-up policy. The International Energy Agency says the world must invest $26 trillion (£16.7 trillion) over the next 20 years to avert an energy shock. The scramble for scarce fuel is already leading to friction between China, India, and the West.
There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.
Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday - produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.
Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. "It’s the Big One," said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.
quote:Hot political summer as China throttles rare metal supply and claims South China Sea
The United States and Europe have been remarkably insouciant about supplies of rare earth minerals so crucial to frontier technologies, from hybrid engines to mobile phones, superconductors, radar and smart bombs.
Lack of strategic planning by the West has allowed China to acquire a world monopoly on this family of seventeen metals. Assumptions that Beijing would never risk its reputation as a global team player by abruptly strangling supply have proved naive.
China’s commerce ministry has cut export quotas for these metals by 72pc for the second half of this year. It is perhaps the starkest move to date in the Great Power clash over scarce resourses.
quote: Right now, we're using about 134,000 tons of rare earth metals a year, but mining only 124,000 tons; the difference is made up using ore stocks that have been mined but not yet processed.
Demand is expected to continue to boom, but new mines and processing facilities take on the order of a decade to come online, so supplies are likely to get very tight in the interim. Right now, most of the rare earths are produced in China, but the country has been limiting exports of late, and its domestic demand is expected to outstrip its production sometime in 2012.
The US has some high-quality deposits that are estimated to hold 13 percent of the global reserves, but much of it is mixed with thorium, which creates a radioactive waste problem that has discouraged their use.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html Has some interesting detail, but the most interesting bit is the list of countries by estimated deposit size. Australia, USA, Turkey, India, and Brazil are the top 5. That would lead to a very interesting realignment in world power if Thorium becomes a dominant resource.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005
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Obama says ... he says lots of things. Obviously, that won't make them true (in fact it usually turns out the opposite). When the loans are approved (so far they have not) and the plants go online, I'll believe him.
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