Thorium: An Energy Solution

Thorium: An Energy Solution

2011, Technology  -   209 Comments
Ratings: 8.66/10 from 1286 users.

Uranium is used to fuel the world's nuclear power plants, but a vocal segment of the scientific community claims that it's too dangerous and rare a chemical to sustain that role for much longer. In the feature-length documentary Thorium: An Energy Solution, they make the case for a much more efficient and sustainable answer to our energy needs.

This argument is led by Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA aerospace engineer, who has long championed the adoption of thorium as a solution to the growing energy crisis. The film presents highlights from a series of rapidly edited lectures led by Sorensen and others. During the course of these speaking engagements, they bemoan the drawbacks of current nuclear-powered technologies, and enthusiastically promote the ways in which thorium could transform the future of our civilization.

The science is vast, and difficult for the layperson to grasp at times, but the overarching message is well articulated and clear. In a world of dwindling resources, and ongoing concerns over the safety of nuclear power, the film contends that thorium could be our last great hope.

Even though officials seem largely oblivious to its potential applications today, thorium's viability as an unlimited nuclear fuel was first discovered in 1942. Its advantages should be much clearer to us now, especially in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, which resulted from the damage inflicted by a devastating tsunami, or other incidents and close-calls that have occurred throughout recent history.

Thorium is more abundantly available than uranium. When used as a fuel to power nuclear energy, it requires no water for cooling, doesn't require pressure for its operation, is non-combustible and won't expel toxic waste should plant malfunction occur. Sorensen makes a persuasive and impassioned case for a safer and more sustainable nuclear energy infrastructure driven by the use of liquid-fluoride thorium reactors. Reliance on this method, he argues, will produce greater reserves of power at a much lower cost than wind and solar.

Thorium: An Energy Solution is a terrifically informative primer on this intriguing option, and one that will likely inspire additional investigation among its viewers.

Directed by: Gordon McDowell

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2 years ago

Generation 4 reactors will be developed. China is in the lead in building working prototypes. We need more low carbon options. Energy demand is growing faster than renewable energy. We have the resources and technology and could have a number of Gen 4 prototypes this decade. And MSR reactors can also burn nuclear fuel waste to produce energy. Just burning nuclear fuel waste is worthwhile but we can produce energy as well. And we have enough depleted uranium waste to give us over 100 years of low carbon energy. And more with thorium. But we need to build Generation 4 prototype reactors to prove that it works. Demand for Gen 4 reactors is growing. Including within the US government. Despite opposition from greens and fossil fuel lobbyists. And the US is leading in this technology. But has no prototypes.

3 years ago

go to vault dot fbi dot gov ... search tesla ... of the three parts listed ... click part 1 ... go to page 7 of part 1 ... read last sentence ... chuckle ... go back to sleep

False Progress
3 years ago

This makes the scenery and wildlife impacts of sprawling wind turbines all the more depressing. It's blight for naught. The world already has over 355,000 of them and it's getting uglier by the month, with CO2 still rising. Anti-nuclear Greens who rationalize the loss of open space are ludicrous.

Nuclear half-life being inversely proportional to risk should be mandatory knowledge in schools.

Danette Werring
4 years ago

5/24/2019 @ 12:06:49 AM In my opinion, does a excellent job of dealing with subjects of this type! Even if sometimes deliberately controversial, the posts are generally well-written and stimulating.

Albert Rogers
4 years ago

As an old man, I'm betting on
Theirs is a molten salt reactor (that's the really important part) which is fuelled by 20% uranium at 19.5% U235 enrichment, and 80% thorium. They do not even claim it's a breeder, but construction costs less labour and materials than a comparable coal burner.

4 years ago

This is an excellent documentary and I would support transitioning all nuclear plants to thorium / flouride salt technology. The .0001% is busy making sure we stay stupid by flouridating our water and food. It would be nice to see some competition for flouride salt to go in another consumption direction.

Of course, ideally we go the Tesla route - safely. Buy a hand held wi-fi meter (Acousitmeter, Trifield, etc.) and pay attention to the spike values. The steady state readings are one thing but the spikes are what trashes your DNA leading to cancer after enough "cellular insults." Check out movie "What On Earth Is It Going To Take?" The Gambles do a good job on tesla tech for mass use.

4 years ago

And... The oil companies, Saudi's and the US major stock holders/government. Are already killing the idea, invention and everyone and everything associated with it.

Jolanda Bassi
4 years ago

keep up the good work.. I am 75 , to old to see this happening.. the lazy's are running the country right now.. ignorance is rampant.. Thanks for the documentary..

5 years ago

Wow this is amazing technology....hopefully us kiwis catch onto how great nuclear energy can be. And the awesome things you can do with it. Cure Cancer rocket fuel etc!

5 years ago

It seems quite a few people leaving comments chose to show their ignorance instead of watching the documentary.

Chicken Little
5 years ago

We should be focusing on Nicola Tesla's high atmospheric energy generator. Our world is a giant perpetual generator. There are massive amounts of energy being formed by the movement of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the jet stream, the very movement of the water and air around us. No fuel needed, no nuclear needed, just immense and untapped power. Tesla had a vision.

Gordon McDowell
6 years ago

Madder Gupta,

I see you leaving comments regarding radiation on this 2011 and the newer 2016 Thorium documentary I finished called "Thorium - The NASA Story".

In both sets of comments I think you missed a key point regarding MSR. Salt chemically traps the radioactive materials. It doesn't matter if the salt is liquid (at hundreds of degrees) or solid (at room temperature). The capture of radioactive materials is a chemical bond, not a physical barrier which can melt.

Also, the salt is not under extreme pressure like today's reactors which are "Pressurized Water Reactors". Pressurized water, in every nuclear disaster, has dispersed radiation as steam.

Yes, there is radioactive material inside the reactor. And it would be dangerous if you came into contact with it. But dangerous materials are part of just about any industrial process. Including those that enable renewable technologies.

Even geothermal energy has produced 200x the volume of radioactive waste per-watt at today's inefficient nuclear power. That's because geothermal energy comes from the decay of radioactive materials.

Nuclear power, even today's inefficient nuclear power, produces WASTE and does NOT PRODUCE POLLUTION.

WASTE is contained.


Whatever your preferred energy source is, take a look at the entire lifecycle. To fabricate solar panels, to build wind turbines, to balance those out with natural gas, all of those involve pollution. FISSION does not. It creates radioactive materials which are stored as waste, and can eventually be recycled using Molten Salt chemistry to extract more energy and valuable (yet radioactive) fission products.

Pressurized Water Reactors are a technology suitable for powering submarines. Alvin Weinberg, who co-invented PWR, considered Molten Salt Reactors [MSR] the more appropriate reactor design for civilian power production.

madhur gupta
6 years ago

Someday, somewhere, there WILL be a disaster of some sort, be it a Molten Salt reactor, and there's going to be radioactivity everywhere.

madhur gupta
6 years ago

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.

madhur gupta
6 years ago

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.

madhur gupta
6 years ago

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?

6 years ago

We're humans, we'll find a way to get our consumption levels high enough to do environmental damage.

Gordon McDowell
6 years ago

A new Thorium documentary has been released. I was working on it for the 4 years since this 2011 was finished in hopes of making it accessible to a wider audience... what you're looking at here was created on a budget of roughly $1,000 and with only 4 events worth of footage. Since then I've attended many more conferences, captured many more interviews, and toured the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment facility itself. It was crowdfunded, and dozens of volunteers helped me shoot an amazing quantity of footage.

The NEW documentary can be found here-

Please check it out, and I'll try address any questions you can throw at me. If you posted one here and want it answered please just copy/paste it over there.


7 years ago

The Chinese are building two Thorium reactors right now with help from our Department of Energy and Canada is looking to begin production of its Thorium reactor this year.

7 years ago

Excellent doc that is thought provoking. There needs to be genuine dialogue centered around our metropolises and their energy consumption.

tamir hayat
7 years ago

i dont want to use fear techniques but our childrens will suffer, if we wont change our ignorant point of view on the polluting situation...
in my opinion only the covetousness of the "rich people" delaying this process...

7 years ago

Til they figure out a way to put a meter on it and sell it to ya....

7 years ago

OK, where is that Thorium reactor?

7 years ago

And, if some young innovator does happen to come up with monumental improvements in solar cells or batteries, it will, of course, involve some exotic, expensive, or toxic material. Right?

7 years ago

There is no such thing as a magic bullet.

But that is not the same as saying that some technologies are not superior to others.
The uranium light water reactor was 1950's tech, and a lousy design even for that.

The TMSR is the reactor tech we SHOULD have had from day one.
That's what Weinberger was trying to tell the morons in charge at the time.

If we had been using MSRs all this time, they would have replaced every other power system on cost basis alone. And today we would not even have a global warming issue.

But instead we do have it. It is not a myth. It is not a lefty hoax.
It is a clear and growing threat.
It is a far greater threat than vague unproven fears about cancer.

These “international accords” have no teeth.
They will never be able to hold to two degrees using the technology we are using today.
And eight billion people cannot live like the plains Indians.

Wind and solar are a side show.
One estimate I saw quoted 4 MILLION wind turbines to handle HALF of the world’s energy needs by 2030. That may be a jobs program, but it sure as hell isn’t a credible energy program.

Four million … let’s see if we can murder ALL the birds.

We are not living in the star trek universe.
There are not going to be vast improvements in battery technology in the next ten years.
There are not going to be vast improvements in solar technology in the next ten years.
(No warp drives either.)

And as for “fuel from water”, what the hell does that mean?
You can’t burn water. It’s already oxidized.
And cracking the hydrogen out takes what? Electricity.

The MSR is the only tech that has the energy density sufficient to replace fossil fuels in the time we have before things get BAD-BAD-BAD.

We should be cranking them off an assembly line just as fast as we can.
(And no, it won’t take four million of them.)

7 years ago

Apparently that know it all hasn't heard of the long term thyroid cancer monitoring project due to the Hanford release 40-50? years ago. Higher incidence of cancer along the Columbia. My Aunt has a lot of friends who died from thyroid cancer from Moses Lake which was downwind from the release. She estimates it ended up on the pasture and into the milk and figures she didn't get cancer because she has always hated milk and wouldn't drink it as a young girl. I used to get those monitoring project info letters since I live along that river. Moral of the story. Don't believe everything you hear. Also much better ways to produce energy without all the risk and being held hostage by "the experts" at power companies required to operate it. Investigate Nikola Teslas work. You won't be disappointed.

7 years ago

SOMEDAY, we will advance beyond the know, FIRE and THE WHEEL. Why, would ANYBODY sane, be interested in coming up with ANOTHER fuel that we can be held hostage with, that is with the exception of the very rich (or those trying to get there). Thorium, or ANY other fuel to create heat, to turn a wheel, to work a widget....yawn. The solution is not Thorium. Period. Don't. Just don't. Energy should be owned by each of us that uses it, igt should come at no cost, either to us, the environment, or our neighbor. My power costs nothing. I own it, it's mine.

Edward Mitchell
7 years ago

Water for fuel is a lot safer and with the new technology when it is broken down and reused it is not destroyed in anyway thus making it a totally renewable source of fuel. But the most promising thing that water for fuel tech brings is it puts the individual in full control of their own energy needs which means no more pain at the pump and no more electric bills, and even cooking and heating would be under the full control of the individual. This compared to what we have today more or less shows us what we have today is energy enslavement and the water for fuel tech promises energy independence so my vote is for the water for fuel technology.

7 years ago

Fantastic Site here! Great topics! VERY interesting Commenters!
However, as an old, old cynic I see the same Elephant that is always ignored:
It is always a question of profits. NEVER costs.(they are only a smoke screen).
Project costs are always massively enlarged because they are directly relative to the money that the interested parties can make.
They are never real.
The key "elephant" is all those existing interested parties like the Oil Titans and the world built around them and their massive profits.
Tesla's "free" energy system HAD to be destroyed. Overnight it would have created a NEW ownership structure of the world.
Morgan knew better than to let that happen.

We can't replace the current Carbon System until we work out how to let Our Owners make more than they do currently.
Oh, and without losing their power bases..............

7 years ago

I've always advocated nuclear power for the interim. It's record for safety is excellent, whereas petroleum has turned our world into a gunky polluted sludge pool. Petroleum theoretically at least has been archaic for over seventy years now but profits are easy so no one complains- they fight wars over instead.
The Fukushima plant was one major disaster that we still do not the effects of. It was haphazardly built next to a sea coast known historically as a danger area for tsunamis. The plant's location should never have been approved. Nevertheless, it did take one of the greatest natural disasters of modern times to destroy it, and it is one plant among thousands of others. I do not believe the media, under pressure for those with vested interests in oil would ever be proponent of nuclear power, even with the presence and influence of the private corporations that run them. They simply do not have enough clout.
I believe strongly in regulation combined with a production motive, especially for any public utility of any kind. To leave utilities or transportation systems solely in the hands private profit motivated organizations is reckless and dangerous.
I thought this documentary was awesome. I do believe however, that better and better, more efficient batteries can and will be built in the future and that the best power grid is one that uses a variety of means to obtain power, both centrally and locally. I also firmly believe in regulating how much power individuals are allowed to use, based proportionately on a number of factors. Processed and imported foods and goods should also be tarrifed to discourage purchasing of these unnecessarily wasteful items. My footprint is very small and I do not feel in the least bit deprived of anything.

8 years ago

All advocates of any type of energy production (or any large scale anything for that matter) must constantly be reminded of the one unmitigable, unavoidable fact of existence known as "Murphy's Law" -- Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Just because someone claims something is "safe" does not mean it IS safe.
Why do these people continue to deny reality?


8 years ago

I am a "radical environmentalist" and damned proud of it. "No" that doesn't mean I commit crimes, blow up bull dozers, wear sandals, dreadlocks or live in a commune. It means that being an environmentalist is something every single educated person, and those who live off the bounty of the planet should be, because the environment is critical to human life support. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either unbelievably ignorant, probably brainwashed, an idiot, or insane. So when I here some arrogant person make the statement,
("sort of an environmentalist") about decent sincere people, who just don't happen to be nuclear physicists, it really pisses me off. That speaks directly to his arrogance, and probably to the viability of his proposals as well.

Consider the (political criminal syndicate mess) that is America's energy supply system. This documentary while thought provoking, and worth considering, is far to fast paced, and trite for such a serious subject matter. It is both arrogant, and unrealistic to assume that everyone is going to understand the complexities of (nuclear reactants), and reactor construction when explained so quickly. Someone who wasn't so arrogant, and full of himself such as Richard Feynman would have explained in a way that a layman could understand. Thorium may well be a great plan to fill in the gap in the future, but the critical answers about reactor construction are far from answered, as are the questions about limited investment dollars. He is wildly, and inaccurately dismissive of the potential for Wind, and particularly solar, as well as hydrogen production, use, and containment technology. The human race had better start thinking "outside the damned box" and "real fast" because the criminal syndicate "fascists", are in it for the quick buck, and they are screwing us blind right now. We need "all" alternatives to fossil fuels to be escalated, modified and updated to the needs of the 21st century "at war time speed", or your children's lives are going to be a living hell. That's the truth!

Sammy Ri
8 years ago

If the people leaving comments here were half as smart as they believe they are we would live in a fantastic world.

8 years ago

For all of us who wanted to know the name of the guy in the doc, it's Kirk Sorensen (see mark 1:49:35)

8 years ago

Old tech that failed then as it does up to the present day!
Look into this a little deeper you will find massive holes to the viability of this topic.

Roger Andout
8 years ago

I wonder why this "lecture" was delivered from what seems to be a basement. Definitely a case of shoot the messanger. If G/peace wasts to save the planet, why are they against fossil fuel (jobs) AND a viable alternative?

8 years ago

What is the name of the main speaker in this documentary? Also, you mentioned in the documentary that there are PDFs online that go over the schematics of building a LFTR, could you post that as a hyperlink? Thanks and your documentary was fantastic. I wish everyone could see this, including lobbyists in Washington.

8 years ago

A great documentary, with great solutions. Aside from China, (and now India) who else is looking at the potential of this; if nobody is, then why aren't they? Perhaps it is because cheap efficient energy is not profitable! So, until we alter the global pyramid scheme paradigm, there will be no effort to pursue that which is in the best interests of everyone! any Questions?
P.S: For confirmation, this gentleman should go on Dragon's den, or shark tank, and when Kevin O'Leary shoots him down because he can't make fast, easy money off it, then everyone will see the truth for what it is.

Al Harken
8 years ago

Using art from fallout 3, seems legit.

8 years ago

edison saw the value of lots of little power plants $$$$$

but tesla won ;)

look into the floride salts corrsiveness they last 5 years

and also the issues with heat sheildings ;)

8 years ago

Thank you! It is documentaries like this that help me understand the complexities of Humanity. When Knowledge is used, to further our survival on this beautiful planet for all generations now and those to come. Your knowledge has connected the dots for me. If I had the money and power you'd be building tomorrow! We must stop using coal!

8 years ago

i love how the cover for this is the cover art from fallout 3

8 years ago

Its about the buck...Tesla rocked it for all for free...the dude not the band...but the band had a few good tunes too

8 years ago

Biased and lacking raw data.

8 years ago

a documentary that doesn't speak at a snail's pace and pause for no reason. Kickass content, too. just amazing. My favorite documentary style.

9 years ago

Where are the "green" people on this one? I understand why the status quo people aren't saying anything but nothing from alternative fuels people, ecologists, hell economists even.
I wonder if it can be shrunk down to fit a car size vehicle? Now that would make for an electric car that doesn't need to "fill up" for 100 years; sweet.

Kai Salovaara
9 years ago

Well laugh at this. The chinese are building a reactor for Thorium. Sometimes a scientist need to talk at a level of the common man(politicians) to get his message through.

Matthew Sobke
9 years ago

Lol. Are cars safe? (insert picture of a Ford Pinto). BUT: anyone likely to recognize the car as a Pinto in the briefest of flashes would know that the car pictured is a 1979/80 Hatchback model, not the 1971 Wagon model which, in rare cases, could puncture the gas tank in a rear-end collision, giving the car it's much exaggerated reputation as a 'rolling bomb'.

Big fan of this research, and an entertaining doc, but don't get me started on how in Leo DiCaprio's Great Gatsby he was driving a 1933 Deusey in 1927...

Max Milligan
9 years ago

Documentary: wonderful!
The way they produced it: Excellent and entertaining!
The information presented: Salvation to energy concerns!
The need I feel we need to apply what has been shared in it: Crucial for the human race!
And this is coming from a tree-hugging hippie who about two hours ago thought nuclear power was the worst idea ever. Thank you!

10 years ago

why don't you people go through crowd funding to build LFTR?