Refocusing for a minute on the energy issue again, one of the more interesting presentations I came across earlier in the year was of Jiang Zimin’s son presenting China’s case for Thorium at a recent conference. A source of “clean” energy that is rarely mentioned, as compared to solar, wind, etc, Thorium has been receiving a lot of interest fro mthe Chinese who see this as an alternative to the standard nuclear options at the grid level… but in a recent article on the ability to harness Thorium as a fuel for cars as well. Another area where China is struggling.
Could Thorium be the answer to China’s energy insecurities, oil and coal? There are some interesting tidbits floating around that I thought I would bring together.
In the article, Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century, that profiled the firm who brought the concept car you see above, the CEO says that a car could run for 100 years on just 8 grams of Thorium. A fuel source that would not only enable China to step way from oil imports, but would also have the added benefit of reduced auto, truck, and bus emissions.
A moon shot for some, but according to The Telegraph’s article China blazes trail for ‘clean’ nuclear power from thorium, China is putting serious resources to the effort:
Princeling Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project for China’s National Academy of Sciences with a start-up budget of $350m. He has already recruited 140 PhD scientists, working full-time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. He will have 750 staff by 2015.
A search fueled by a very simple fact. One that I have been trying to make more clear over the last few months:
Mr Jiang says China’s energy shortage is becoming “scary” and will soon pose a threat to national security. It is no secret what he means. Escalating disputes with with India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and above all Japan, are quickly becoming the biggest threat to world peace. It is a resource race compounded by a geo-strategic struggle, with echoes of the 1930s.
And, according to the Energy and Capital piece China Thorium Investing, Jiang has made quite the impression on others in bringing Thorium online:
a report was released a few weeks ago by a Labour member of the House of Lords in London. Bryony Worthington, the Labour’s climate change spokeswoman, announced China is moving to thorium as a nuclear fuel.
[...] Bottom line: If China’s looking to land 200 gigawatts of nuclear, it’s going to do so using the most advanced technology it can get its hands on. And when it comes to safety and efficiency, thorium is a serious contender.
Bringing it all together, where this is interesting (even if it is very very premature) is that China sees their fossil fuel economy as a dinosaur waiting for the meteor, and regardless of how “out there” the technology may seem right now, there is clearly an ongoing effort to develop Thorium by those in China’s inner circles.
All the reason in the world to continue watching this space…