Posted by Mark Halper

China looks set to fuel its growth with nuclear power, including thorium. There will be plenty of thorium talk   in Shanghai (above) this month.

The future of CO2-free energy relies on thorium-fuelled nuclear power and other alternative nuclear technologies that will replace the uranium-powered water-cooled reactors prevalent today.

And no country is doing more in thorium research and development than China – so much so that as we noted in a recent post, some people believe that Western countries will end up licensing thorium technologies from Beijing.

So it is fitting that this year the Thorium Energy Conference heads to the country of 1.3 billion people, where it kicks off on Oct. 29 in Shanghai, co-sponsored by the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINAP) – part of the government’s Chinese Academy of Sciences – and by the International Thorium Energy Organization (IThEO).

The conference organizers have released a list of sessions spanning the 4 days and drawing in speakers from around the world including China, Japan, the U.S., Russia and the Czech Republic. It all promises answers to burning questions about thorium.

Want to learn more about how China is leading the pack on the thorium trail? Then drop in on the session China, the center of world environment, resource and energy —using thorium as a key, given by Takashi Kamei from Japan’s Research Institute for Applied Sciences.

Or maybe you’ve noticed that the thorium community itself disagrees on how best to deploy the fuel.  Should you put it in conventional rods in water-cooled reactors? Or should you optimize it with alternative reactor designs? Which reactor design – molten salt? Pebble bed? Accelerator driven? The session Utilization of Thorium Fuel in different reactor design should help clarify, presented by Ganglin Yu and Kan Wang.

If you’ve been keeping your ear to the thorium ground, you might have heard rumblings about a liquid thorium reactor initiative in the Czech Republic. For more information, drop by a session by the chief scientist of that country’s Nuclear Research Institute, Miloslav Hron, who will provide an update on the project (with a session title too long to write here!).

What’s a conference like this without an author heralding the technology’s arrival? The thorium world’s latest such scribbler, Robert Hargraves, will present his new book, Thorium energy cheaper than coal, in a session by the same name. Hargrave’s recently published work followed quickly on the heels of Richard Martin’s thorium homage, Superfuel, released earlier this year.

And if you want to get into the debate of exactly how safe and bomb-free thorium power is, there are sessions on actinides, waste, and related. You can find a full list of presentations here.

We’ll be there, blogging away.

But between now and then we’ll bring you plenty more news, updates and analysis of thorium and alternative nuclear developments. Apropos to the Chinese theme, watch for our overview of a SINAP molten salt thorium project, for instance.

We’ll also bring you up to date on a thorium-focused pebble bed reactor that is taking shape in South Africa. In the process, our thorium trail will descend into a rare earth mine. You never know where else it might wander.

Stay with us.

Photo: J. Patrick Fischer via Wikimedia.


  1. Laurence Aurbach says:

    That’s the best thorium conference promo I have ever read. I’m looking forward to your coverage.

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