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A riveting look at how an alternative source of energy is revoluntionising nuclear power, promising a safe and clean future for millions, and why thorium was sidelined at the height of the Cold War
In this groundbreaking account of an energy revolution in the making, award-winning science writer Richard Martin introduces us to thorium, a radioactive element and alternative nuclear fuel that is far safer, cleaner, and more abundant than uranium.
At the dawn of the Atomic Age, thorium and uranium seemed to be in close competition as the fuel of the future. Uranium, with its ability to undergo fission and produce explosive material for atomic weapons, won out over its more pacific sister element, relegating thorium to the dustbin of science.
Now, as we grapple with the perils of nuclear energy and rogue atomic weapons, and mankind confronts the specter of global climate change, thorium is re-emerging as the overlooked energy source as a small group of activists and outsiders is working, with the help of Silicon Valley investors, to build a thorium-power industry.
In the first book mainstream book to tackle these issues, Superfuel is a story of rediscovery of a long lost technology that has the power to transform the world's future, and the story of the pacifists, who were sidelined in favour of atomic weapon hawks, but who can wean us off our fossil-fuel addiction and avert the risk of nuclear meltdown for ever.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.32(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.74(d)|
About the Author
Richard Martin was the first to write about thorium in the mainstream press. His feature story in Wired catalyzed the thorium power movement. An award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Time, Fortune, The Atlantic, and The Best Science Writing, Martin is the editorial director of Pike Research, a leading clean-energy firm. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and son.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a good read that unfortunately suffers from a few major flaws. I thought the author did a good job relating the history of of Alvin Weinberg's work and explaining the benefits of LFTRs but I was disappointed by his dismissal of that he calls the "nuclearati" who have provided us with the amazingly safe and efficient Gen I through Gen IV light water reactors. The author fails to even mention the so-called "nuclearati's" first successful U.S. commercial High Temperature Gas Cooled Thorium cycle reactor that went online at Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania in 1963 and operated until 1974, or the conversion of the nation's first commercial reactor at Shippingport into a Thorium-cycle LWR Breeder reactor in 1975. He also makes several errors of fact in a number of his technical descriptions of the operation of conventional uranium cycle LWR reactors. While still a very good read on the important topic of LFTRs, this book might have been a great read if the author had been less hostile toward those he condescendingly calls the"nuclearati.' Many of the technical errors could also have been avoided had consulted a few of them for some editing of technical details in his manuscript before it was submitted for publication.
I'm a nuclear engineer. I thought I knew a lot about a wide range of nuclear technologies, including the Thorium fuel cycle. Well, I was right and I was wrong. I knew the theory from my nuclear engineering studies, but it was presented more like a more recent, fringe concept - "something someone once thought about" - instead of a real (and even better!) alternative to the Uranium and Plutonium fuel cycles. "Superfuel" tells the whole story: from Adam and Eve (in this case: Mme. & M. Curie) to the people, the military events, and the political decisions that caused the Thorium cycle to be shelved for decades. I can't decide whether there's a happy ending. Read the book, see for yourselves. Check the references if you are looking for more technical details.
Richard Martin has produced a provocative idea book, that is not understood in the Nuclear family. The fact that it worked for 26 years in Shippingport, PA is testament that it needs to be considered. EXCELON should look seriously at it!
I expected it to be much more on Thorium and not other misc. events going on in history. It was hard to stay motivated when reading this. Do not expect much on Thorium.