Thorium: The NASA Story

2016 ,    »  -   12 Comments
Ratings: 9.29/10 from 129 users.
Thorium: The NASA Story

The comforts and necessities of our daily existence could not be fulfilled without the use of energy. Yet, our world is in a constant state of crisis when it comes to energy reserves. Aerospace engineer Kirk Sorensen believes he's uncovered a solution that's cleaner, more efficient and somewhat more controversial than the tremulous energy sources we currently rely upon - an abundant, naturally occurring and energy dense radioactive element called Thorium. The new feature-length documentary titled Thorium: The NASA Story supports one aspect of Sorensen's proposed solution by outlining its worthiness in the pursuit of space colonization, and then tying it back to its practical applications here on Earth.

Carefully assembled from a series of viral video sources and newly produced footage by Gordon McDowell, the film makes intimidating scientific concepts easily understandable to the layperson. First, it establishes the role that energy plays in space travel and exploration by recalling a series of groundbreaking NASA missions including Voyager 1, New Horizons and the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

The victories and shortfalls of each of these missions can be traced back to their utilization of power. The further we travel beyond the sun, the more incompetent our solar and battery-powered energy sources become. As a result, many of NASA's loftiest ambitions - including their desire to explore beneath the ice of Jupiter's moon Europa - remain stalled in the conceptual phase. According to Sorensen, who worked for NASA for over a decade, nuclear power could change all that.

The film uses the example of the hugely popular book and film The Martian as an illustration of its argument. If his mission were powered by nuclear energy, the protagonist would have little difficulty travelling across the surface of Mars and harnessing the planet's resources for food and sustenance.

The aspirations of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk, and every human favoring space exploration are blocked by off-world energy constraints. As real-world, billion dollar solar powered space missions fail because of dust and shadow, the film convincingly argues that Thorium's most practical application is not even in space, but back here on Earth. Instead of using Uranium in today's water cooled nuclear reactors, with Thorium we can power our world more efficiently than ever before. The widespread view of nuclear power is as a force for destruction. Thorium: The NASA Story successfully counters this reputation.

Directed by: Gordon McDowell

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12 Comments / User Reviews

  1. fancypants

    kirk is awesome, nothing more need be said. +10

  2. Derek

    Sounds great in theory but the people on this earth care about 1 thing.. Money!! And throrium is just too dam powerful.. How will you make any money if a ball of thorium the size of a golf ball could power your home and car for your entire life.. Not to mention maybe even longer and not to mention there is ahuge adundance of thorium.. More the urAnium actually.. So therefor its value is worthless to anyone who wants to make money... The solutions are easy its the powers that be that dont give a crap about people who actually make the world go around

  3. bart

    very good basic information about nuclear power especially how important it is for space exploration.

  4. Rokas

    It's good thing that China and India are starting to develop Thorium-based nuclear power plants, more competitors will show up.

  5. KsDevil

    It sounds to me like the money in thorium rectors is not in it's electrical generation, but it's electrical distribution.
    And the best way to accomplish such a thing, an open market blank slate is needed. So it's no wonder the potential development is aimed in nations with open slate politics.
    But it is a disappointment that the costs are prohibitive in the micro-power market.

  6. Gordon McDowell

    Folks, am happy to see TDF indexed the NASA video I edited. If there's any technical questions regarding Molten Salt Reactors (the type of reactor which makes thorium energy practical), or on Thorium reactors in particular, I'll try to answer.

  7. Craig

    I tell everyone I know about LFTR reactors. No one I talked to has even heard of it. When I explain how inherently stable it is they ask why we don't use it today

  8. madhur gupta

    So, somewhere in the middle of the video he says that U-233 decays into some really nasty Gamma-ray emitting stuff like Pb and Tl.
    Who takes care of that?
    The main concern with a nuclear power plant is NOT the "safety" regarding the natural disasters like Tsunami, but the RADIOACTIVITY part of it.
    You cannot take the "radioactivity" out of a nuclear reaction. Someday, somewhere, there WILL be a disaster of some sort, be it a Molten Salt reactor (there are disasters even in thermal plants), and there's going to be radioactivity everywhere.
    Also, not to mention that most oil is mainly used to run vehicles. I'm not sure how Thorium reactors can power transport and hence replace petroleum/gasoline.

  9. Gage

    "Also, not to mention that most oil is mainly used to run vehicles. I'm not sure how Thorium reactors can power transport and hence replace petroleum/gasoline."

    Really??? You are aware there are already lots of hybrid and fully electric vehicles on the road, and a huge amount of competition in that market.

  10. Robert Weekes

    Derek, the cost of the thorium fuel is negligible, it's the cost of everything else that will make some companies lots of money. Fabricating the metal and concrete parts for the reactor (not that much actually) will cost a certain amount and especially the up front research will cost a lot. That should be funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy

  11. Gordon McDowell

    Madder Gupta,

    In the video Kirk refers to Uranium-232 (not 233) decaying into Bismuth-212 and Thallium-208. (Bismuth-212 has a half-life of 1 hour. Thallium-208 has a half-life of 3 minutes.)

    To say "You can not take radioactivity out of a nuclear reaction" is true, but you can't take radioactivity out of nature itself either. We're bathed in radiation all the time. We pull radioactive isotopes out of the ground when we harness geothermal in California. We pull them out of the ground when we mine materials for doping solar panels or building better car batteries.

    The only totally unique aspect about radioactive material found in a nuclear power plant, is that they are CONTAINED.

    If you're not fussed with how & why the Tsunami led to RELEASE of radioactive isotopes at Fukushima, then you are ignoring the difference between WASTE and POLLUTION.



    Molten Salt Reactor proponents are interested in nuclear technology where the chemical bonds of the salt itself keeps radioactive isotopes from dispersing, no matter what disaster might befall the reactor.

  12. Gordon McDowell

    ORNL just discovered a documentary about the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment which was created in 1969. It contains never-before film footage of the MSRE itself. It can be seen on the official YouTube channel of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.... in fact it was only released to public 4 days ago (2016-10-14). So that means it was lost for about 45 years.

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