Posted by Mark Halper

This is Jordan’s most famous rock – Petra. It’s working on giving stature to uranium. It should really be thinking about thorium.

This is a short post drawing attention to a news story out of Jordan this week that, without mentioning the word thorium, provides two strong reasons why the kingdom and the rest of the world should adopt thorium-powered nuclear reactors.

The report by wire service Agence France Presse notes that Jordan has terminated a license that gave French nuclear company Areva the right to mine for uranium.

Areva had an agreement in place with local company Jordan Energy Resources Inc., to mine a potential 20,000 tonnes of uranium in the country’s central region, through a joint venture called the Jordanian French Uranium Mining Company.

But their license “is now void,” the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission declared, explaining that JFUMC had failed to submit a report on time.”

Not that Jordan is giving up on possibly mining uranium. Australian company Coffey Mining thinks the reserves are actually twice as much as what the JFUMC had detected, according to The Jordan Times.  Areva disputes Coffey’s outlook, and that disagreement seems to have factored into Areva’s termination.

But the set-to marks the latest in a string of mine delays and cancellations for the uranium industry, suffering from among other things a lack of financing.

THORIUM DRIVE

As uranium tyres go flat on the nuclear highway, I say it’s time to start replacing them with thorium wheels – the alternative element that when put into the right alternative reactor affords a safer, more efficient, meltdown proof reactor that leaves behind less waste and reduces the weapons proliferation risk.

Thorium is more abundant than uranium, and it typically co-exists with the rare earth metals that are vital to global manufacturing.  Mining for thorium thus helps kill two bird with one stone (watch for our chilling story from the rare earth business, coming soon).

And alternative thorium reactors like molten salt and pebble reactors run at significantly higher temperatures than conventional water cooled, uranium fuelled reactors. Thus, they have enormous potential not only as a source of electricity, but also of heat to drive industrial processes, as we noted recently from North Dakota.

And that’s where the Jordanian story comes in again. As AFP notes, the desert kingdom “is one of the world’s driest countries and wants to use atomic energy to fire desalination plants to overcome its crippling water shortage.”

Anyone who has ever heard Flibe Energy boss Kirk Sorensen speak about thorium knows that liquid thorium molten salt reactors such as the one he’s developing in Huntsville, Ala., are tailor-made to take the salt out of water.

Hey Kirk – why not send a test model to the King?

Photo: Carlalexanderlukas via Wikimedia

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