APIED began researching and developing the technology for a Particle Accelerator Driven Pure Thorium Energy System in 2006.
Thorium is a cheap, abundant material found throughout the world. It is estimated that there is at least a 10,000 years’ supply to generate all current and future energy requirements.
Australia is blessed with exceptionally large deposits of thorium of the highest quality of any known deposits. Often found in mineral sands, large thorium deposits exist on the coast of Northern New South Wales, North Stradbroke Island and in numerous other parts of the country.
The energy contained within thorium is such that 1,000 kgs is sufficient to generate 1 gigawatt of electricity for 12 months. At current prices of $80 per kg, $2 million worth of thorium would power all of Australia’s electricity needs for 12 months. Australia has the potential to generate the world’s cheapest electricity on a continuous basis irrespective of wind, sunshine, or rainfall: thus guaranteeing fully independent base load supply.
Seventy per cent of Australia’s electricity is used by Industry. We have the third highest electricity charges in the world. Cheap, continuous electricity is the easiest way to make our manufacturing industries competitive.
An ADS Thorium system does involve fission, but APIED’s technology bears no resemblance to a conventional, enriched uranium reactor and has none of the issues associated with enriched uranium.
APIED’s ADS Thorium system has the following advantages:
- The technology does not create plutonium so cannot be used to produce nuclear weapons.
- Because a particle accelerator is driven by electricity, the system can be totally shut down simply by flicking a switch. That stops the reaction instantly.
- Our system utilises in excess of 99 per cent of the thorium. An enriched uranium system uses 0.7 per cent of the available uranium. Then all the residual uranium, 99+ per cent, needs to be reprocessed before it can continue to be utilised. This process is risky, expensive, and continuous.
- The ADS Thorium system produces less than 1 per cent waste. Even that minimal amount of waste can be fully burned up by running the system in ‘slow mode’, or it could be encapsulated in ‘SYNROC’, basically similar to incorporating sand in a glass bottle, and buried. Our preferred method is to burn in-situ. Our thorium waste has a half-life of 500 years, should it be encapsulated rather than burned. By comparison, enriched uranium has a half-life of 250,000 years.
- We do not need to utilise water for cooling, thus allowing us infinite physical locations, and we can use CO2 which is incapable of absorbing any radioactivity, hence eliminating any issues should any leaks occur.
APIED worked for several years with the University of Queensland on the ADS Thorium technology. In mid-2013, a meeting was convened between APIED and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). At that meeting, APIED agreed to enter into a confidential commercial arrangement with ANSTO to conduct a series of experiments on an ADS Thorium system to test the validity of the concept and technology.
In early 2014, ANSTO conducted the experiments utilising their Antares Particle Accelerator and minute amounts of thorium. These experiments were a resounding success and totally validated the concept, the technology, and its practical application.
APIED is now entering the concept design and engineering stage to enable the construction of the world’s first demonstration plant.
We envisage incorporating the latest developments in building smaller and more powerful particle accelerators to achieve a plug-in modular design that fits into a shipping container. This design would then enable the retro-fit of an ADS Thorium system into existing fossil and enriched uranium fuelled power stations, as well as the construction of dedicated thorium power stations.
This technology, as well as providing clean, inexpensive, 24/7 power, also enables the production of cheap hydrogen for transport needs into the future.