Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for the 2020 Presidential election, promises to make thorium molten salt reactors as part of his climate plan for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Yang says he would heavily promote thorium research in America, stating that part of "$50 billion in research and development" would go toward thorium-based molten salt reactors...
In his climate plan, Yang briefly explains the history of thorium energy research in the US, as well as the benefits of using thorium as a power source:
“America explored the option of using thorium as a potential source for civilian nuclear power. In the 1960s, the United States experimented with a thorium reactor to generate power, but the project was shelved in the 1970s.
Why did we go with uranium instead of thorium? Uranium is used in nuclear weapons; thorium isn’t. Yet another benefit to using thorium as a power source!
- One ton of thorium could potentially produce roughly 200 times more energy than one ton of uranium and 3.5 million times more energy than one ton of coal. (13)
- There is roughly 3 times more thorium on Earth than uranium, and we are already mining it as a byproduct of other rare-earth element mining. Right now, we’re literally just burying it back in the ground.
- Thorium mining is substantially safer than uranium mining—thorium’s primary ore, monazite, is retrievable from open pits which receives greater ventilation than the underground shafts from which uranium is mined, decreasing miners’ exposure to radon.
- Thorium reactors produce less waste than uranium reactors. Thorium waste remains radioactive for several hundred years instead of several thousand years.
- Thorium-based molten salt reactors are safer than earlier-generation nuclear reactors, and the potential for a catastrophic event is negligible, due to the design of the reactor and the fact that thorium is not, by itself, fissile.”
If elected as President, Yang would direct parts of “$50 billion in research and development” for thorium-based molten salt reactors to have them up and running by 2027. His plan makes sense: if you look at the world leader in clean energy development, China, they are investing heavily in Thorium along with renewables.
Yang studied economics, political science and law, but became an entrepreneur instead of continuing his career as a corporate lawyer. After selling his education company, he founded the Venture for America, an organization that helps entrepreneurs create jobs, and is now running to become the President of the United States. Yang is endorsed, amongst others, by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, and the Obama administration selected him as Presidential Ambassador for Global Enterpreneurship in 2015.
Yang believes the US needs to think bigger about the problems facing the country. He also believes that moving to a sustainable economy will create a much needed economic boost for his country. As part of the move to sustainability, Yang is set out to engage the world’s most innovative economy in developing thorium molten salt reactors.
Can Yang make Thorium a key topic in 2020?
We sure hope so! Support him here!