Energy amplifier

The concept has several potential advantages over conventional nuclear fission reactors:

  • Subcritical design means that the reaction could not run away — if anything went wrong, the reaction would stop and the reactor would cool down. A meltdown could however occur if the ability to cool the core was lost.
  • Thorium is an abundant element — much more so than uranium — reducing strategic and political supply issues and eliminating costly and energy-intensive isotope separation. There is enough thorium to generate energy for at least several thousand years at current consumption rates.
  • The energy amplifier would produce very little plutonium, so the design is believed to be more proliferation-resistant than conventional nuclear power (although the question of uranium-233 as nuclear weapon material must be assessed carefully).
  • The possibility exists of using the reactor to consume plutonium, reducing the world stockpile of the very-long-lived element.
  • Less long-lived radioactive waste is produced — the waste material would decay after 500 years to the radioactive level of coal ash.
  • No new science is required; the technologies to build the energy amplifier have all been demonstrated. Building an energy amplifier requires only engineering effort, not fundamental research (unlike nuclear fusion proposals).
  • Power generation might be economical compared to current nuclear reactor designs if the total fuel cycle and decommissioning costs are considered.
  • The design could work on a relatively small scale, making it more suitable for countries without a well-developed power grid system
  • Inherent safety and safe fuel transport could make the technology more suitable for developing countries as well as in densely populated areas.