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Nuclear Salt Could Save Humanity

Stashed in: Awesome, economics, Energy!, Global Warming

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When we produce power cheaper than coal-fired plants, demand will be huge.

–Moltex lead engineer Rory O’Sullivan

Nuclear power currently provides 11 percent of the world’s energy. But that number needs to grow to 17 percent to hit the globe’s targeted carbon dioxide emission reduction levels by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency. And the robust and reliable nature of CO2-free nuclear power complements the expansion of more intermittent renewable energy, lowering demand for fossil-fuel generation. But to safely deliver, nuclear plants can’t carry the costs, safety or political baggage of existing sites. 

While solar, gas and wind are increasingly playing a role, many say there’s no escaping the need for nuclear power to maintain our tech-heavy worlds. 

Lucky for us, scientists believe they’ve found a way to eliminate smog-inducing coal production and reduce the risks and costs of nuclear power.

The answer? A renaissance fueled by molten salt reactor (MSR) technology, a way of dissolving uranium pellets in molten salt and transforming them into a liquid that can be safely kept in reactors for decades. So far, Beijing has proven the biggest gambler — investing a whopping $350 million — but researchers and firms in the U.S., Canada and Europe are also running full speed ahead, and global deployment of full-scale test reactors is expected before 2030. Experts reckon this revolutionary system could be cheaper to use than coal, and, because the liquid can be drained into tanks and quickly cooled in emergencies, MSR holds the promise of a future free of Chernobyl-style meltdowns.

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