The above link is to a website devoted to thorium as a fuel.
I am no expert in nuclear engineering, but I remain fascinated by the potential of thorium. So are the Chinese. Evidently, there is more than one kind of nuclear reactor using thorium and the Chinese are investing MSR reactors. MSR stand for molten salt reactor and the plan is to use Uranium 233 to start the reaction and then use thorium to fuel it indefinitely.
Most sources seem to agree that these reactors have a number of benefits:
1) They don’t produce suitable by-products for use in nuclear weapons, thus reducing proliferation.
2) Thorium is abundant. It occurs in a purer form but can be extracted from coal (some say even from seawater). It can also be extracted from the noxious wastes of coal and can thus be used to clean up the mess left behind by dependance on “King Coal.”
3) The reactors seem to be far safer and far cooler and less risky than conventional nuclear reactors. Shippingport ran on thorium for about 20 years without incident until it was decommissioned.
The bad news is that thorium was not considered useful by the military, which apparently wanted to be able to disguise military use behind civilian use. So the U.S. currently has no thorium program. Let’s hope Hatch/Reid (a bill that looks to be all of 10 pages or less) passes and we can race the Chinese.
Otherwise, they seem intent on mastery of the engineering and attempting to control the “intellectual property” rights. That is truly a laugh, considering how much “Intellectual property” they have stolen.