It was a privilege to host an International conference in Huddersfield. We had 35 registered delegates, from the USA, China, and several European countries, including the UK, attending this biennial meeting (the last one was in Virginia) devoted to alternative forms of nuclear power.
The need is definitely there. Climate change is upon us, and no-one can doubt the consequences if we fail to kick the habit of using fossil fuels. A little arithmetic and common sense shows that this can’t be made up by solar, wind and hydro power: that only nuclear power has the capacity to replace our dependence on coil and oil. But nuclear power brings its own problems, particularly the disposal of the long-lived radioactive waste. ADSR and thorium – together or separately – can provide a technical solution.
We know how to do it. There were many talks on reactor and accelerator designs, including the experience from accelerators already operating, or under construction, such as the ESS in Sweden. The science and the engineering are in place.
Politically the scene is not so positive. In the USA there is a lot of talk, but no action. In the UK there is not even talk; although we are, unlike Germany and Switzerland, committed to building new nuclear power stations, Hinkley Point is depressingly conventional. There are only two schemes getting off the drawing board in Europe: in Belgium, where a new accelerator system is being planned and is on the path of being designed and funded, and in Russia, where plans to convert an existing accelerator at Troitsk to a small ADSR are well advnced.
The good news comes from China. The growing demand for energy in the 1.4 Bn population is being met by a programme of power station construction, including a large expansion of nuclear power. They are looking to ADSRs to solve the waste problem, plans are drawn up and prototypes are being constructed. Hopefully the community, as represented at this conference, can help them in making this happen, and then spread that to the rest of the world.
Copies of the talks at the conference are available here.