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SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future (Macmillan Science) Hardcover – 14 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (14 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230116477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230116474
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 533,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Besides briefly covering everything technical you need to know about the 90th element on the periodic table, "SuperFuel" provides engaging detail on the history and likely future of using thorium as a comparatively safe and substantially beneficial nuclear fuel . . . [Martin] makes a solid, convincing case for thorium as a superfuel, not simply to replace uranium, but to reduce the use of much dirtier fuels such as coal . . . With readable presentations like "SuperFuel, " the path to a better energy future just got a little easier."--"The Washington Times""Makes the case that thorium, an abundant, safe element that cannot easily be turned into a weapon, should be fuelling our reactors instead of uranium...Martin is at his best when describing the human struggles of the cold-war era that spelled their...convincing."--"New Scientist""Traces the history of nuclear power development. . . Recommended."-"Choice""Richard Martin has done an exemplary job of exploring a technically demanding subject in a gripping narrative form. The implications of this subject could not be more vital -- for oil prices, energy security, the chances of coping with climate change -- and 'Superfuel' clearly and fairly spells out the reasons for both optimism and for caution. If every technical book were written in this clear and engaging a style, we'd all be a lot better informed! I am very glad to have read this book."--James Fallows, The Atlantic, author of "China Airborne""Bringing back to light a long-lost technology that should never have been lost, this fascinating and important biography of thorium also brings us a commodity that's rare in discussions of energy and climate change: hope."-- Chris Anderson, editor in chief of "Wired ""Thorium is the younger sister to uranium, less volatile, slower to self-consume, and as many have contended without success, much better suited as a source of nuclear power than uranium. "Superfuel" by award-winning science writer Richard M

Book Description

A riveting look at how an alternate source of energy is revolutionizing nuclear power, promising a safe and clean future for millions, and why thorium was sidelined at the height of the Cold War

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By MB on 11 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
In June 2012, I was present up at Cambridge University's Engineering Dept to hear thorium evangelist Rick Martin talking about his new book, Super Fuel, subtitled Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future.

For those of you not familiar with the buzz about thorium, it's an alternative to using uranium as a fuel for nuclear reactors. It's abundant, it's much easier to manage and the waste and proliferation issues are greatly reduced (though not eliminated). I could go on, but you'd do better to look at the book.

What's just as interesting to me is that thorium has evangelists, of which Martin is certainly one. Evangelists like Apple used to have evangelists? Yes, not so very different. But why would anyone evangelise nuclear power? Well, just as Apple was once a David pitching itself against Microsoft's Goliath, so thorium is very much a minnow when pitched against mainstream nuclear power. It's not just the fuel, it's how you use it and the buzz is all around liquid fluoride thorium reactors, known in thorium circles as Lifters, which don't need pressurising and have in-built passive protection against meltdowns.

This is not new technology. A Lifter was built and run for a while at the Oak Ridge Labs in the USA in the 1970s by Alvin Weinberg, the godfather of the thorium brigade. It worked fine but it got closed down because the USA decided that uranium reactors suited them better (at least in part because they could be used to produce enriched uranium for bombs). Since then very little has happened until very recently; the Chinese are now building a couple of lifters, and India is also starting to use thorium though as a solid fuel, not a liquid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Lonsdale on 30 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been opposed to nuclear power for many years (since the 1970s). My opposition was due to:
• the risk of catastrophic incidents at production sites,
• the scope for nuclear fuels to be enriched by maverick states or terrorists wanting to create nuclear weapons, and
• the need to store ever increasing quantities of highly toxic nuclear waste for centuries to come.

Recently someone asked if I'd heard of thorium and, as I hadn't, I decided to check it and started by reading this well-written and very readable book by Richard Martin.

Thorium is a radioactive element which is apparently far more abundant than uranium, lends itself to sustainable nuclear power generation, is very difficult to enrich for destructive purposes, is intrinsically safe (in Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors), and can actually use stockpiled nuclear waste as a nuclear fuel, producing far smaller quantities of less toxic waste in the process. It is also a waste product in the mining of rare earth metals.

It's become clear to me that my long-standing reservations about nuclear power were out of date and misplaced. My ideological preconceptions regarding the threats and risks of old nuclear technology had closed my mind to considering the opportunities and benefits of new nuclear technology. I would urge all long-term opponents of nuclear power to revisit the subject by reading this book and, if time permits, Nuclear 2.0 by Mark Lynas and Thorium Energy Cheaper than Coal by Robert Hargraves.

I'm now convinced that new nuclear technology has a crucial role to play in dealing with climate change. In fact, I can't see how any strategy to address climate change will stand any chance of success without it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Graham Douglas on 24 Dec 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A story that had to be told and it's very thorough, objective and well-referenced. Depressing to think that all the investment in Uranium power may be too late to reverse.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larrythelaser on 5 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having just read Super Fuel by Richard Martin I can now understand how nuclear technology ignored the logical choice of radioactive elements, Thorium, after WWII and developed Uranium as the primary choice for electrical energy generation. The book SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future (MacSci) details a very convincing case for developing Thorium Molten Sodium Reactors as soon as possible to fill the gaps in energy generation world-wide. This will provide a green, safe energy source using an abundant fuel which will also solve the problem of present Uranium waste disposal.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I found it highly rewarding to read this book right through, even though I was already convinced of the uniqe case for thorium energy. Richard Martin has used his experience as a journalist to produce a thorough, balanced and international review that is at once entertaining, realistic yet encouraging; it's a landmark, and should win awards. Thorium technology was investigated last century, but unfortunately the arms race meant that direct uranium technology, with its hazards and diseconomies, predominated. Now, only nuclear energy can supply what we need to avoid global warming becoming catastrophic, and only thorium can deliver it cleanly and quickly enough.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is kind of broad, history, physics, chemistry, politics, economics etc. Claiming these liquid reactors are the future is can only be done with proper consideration of the alternative energy sources that might arise, and there are plenty that can compete. So did I learn that thorium is a useful element? Yes sure, but can I argue with a straight face that it can compete properly? Not really.
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