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Thorium is an element which, with the right technology, can be used as a fuel for nuclear power. It is claimed to have a range of advantages over uranium including greater abundance, lower radiotoxicity waste, safer operation and weapons proliferation resistance – although some of these are disputed.

While several significant demonstration projects have been built and operated since the 1940s, the technology is still at the research and development stage and commercial use is thought to be at least 10-15 years away (and further for more innovative plant designs). The Government “maintains an interest in the global potential of thorium” but does not see a role for it in the UK’s short- to mid-term energy market. Research spending in the UK is low, although larger projects are underway elsewhere in Europe and in China, India and Japan.


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