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Two books on sustainable nuclear energy

This is a short post to alert BNC readers to a couple of important things.

First, Tom Blees has now generously released the full text of his book “Prescription for the Planet” — it is available for free download here (or click image).

So, if you own an iPad or other tablet, or just have a PDF reader on your notebook computer, then you can comfortably read and search the entire contents. Spread the word — more people NEED to read this. (I’ve previously reviewed the book in 4 parts on BNC).

Second, Robert Hargraves was kind enough to post me a pre-publication hard copy of his new book “THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal“. It will be released for sale on 1 September 2012. Its fundamental axiom — that we need (and can have, via advanced nuclear technologies) energy that is cheaper than coal, even without carbon taxes, subsidies etc., is enormously appealing as a ‘saleable message’, and I think right on the money if we are going to allow the world to phase out fossil fuels in time to avoid major environmental problems.

Anyway, I’m currently part-way into reading it in detail (amongst a hundred other things on the go, alas!). From what I’ve absorbed so far, it is excellent — comprehensive but easy to digest, logically structured, attractively presented, and approachable for a non-technical audience (without excessive ‘dumbing down’).

You can find many more details on the book’s website. Here are a list of the book’s chapters, to give you a taste of the content:

1 Introduction: an introduction to world crises related to energy and the environment, and the potential for good solutions.

2 Energy and civilization: the relationship between energy, life, and human civilization, easy energy science, life’s dependence on energy flows, civilization’s progress with the energy of the Industrial Revolution, and the 21st century crises of global warming and energy consumption.

3 An unsustainable world: global warming and its terrifying implications for water, agriculture, food, and civilization; depletion of economical petroleum reserves, deadly air pollution from burning coal, increased competition for natural resources from a growing population, and the solution of new energy technology, cheaper than coal.

4 Energy sources: the character and cost of current and principal emerging energy sources: coal, oil, natural gas, hydropower, solar, wind, biomass, and nuclear.

5 Liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR): the history and technology of liquid fuel nuclear reactors, the Oak Ridge demonstration molten salt reactors, thorium, LFTR, the denatured molten salt reactor (DMSR), builders, and possible contenders for energy cheaper than coal.

6 Safety: the safety of molten salt reactors, comparisons to alternative energy sources, radiation risks, waste, weapons, and fear.

7 A sustainable world: environmental benefits of thorium energy cheaper than coal: reduced CO2 emissions, reduced petroleum consumption, synthetic fuels for vehicles, hydrogen power, water conservation, desalination.

8 Energy policy: current confused policies; failure to reduce CO2 emissions, subsidies, recommendations, leadership.

For Australian purchasers, Robert tells me that you can get it via Amazon UK (not US).

Incidentally, I also have another thorium-focused energy book, “Superfuel“, that sitting on my Kindle and waiting to be read. It will be interesting to compare the two books — I’ll probably do a double review of them on BNC in due course. But I’ve decided to read Hargraves’ TECTC first, because it looked the better one to me based on a speed read (and it had a fair, albeit short, coverage of liquid metal fast breeder reactors, although the focus is obviously on the LFTR). I’ve also seen some mixed reviews of Superfuel (complaining of too much hyperbole/anti-uranium bias), which was enough to make me comfortable with putting it on the reading backburner.

Oh, and don’t forget to also read “Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor: The complex history of a simple reactor technology, with emphasis on its scientific bases for non-specialists” if you’ve not already done so. This, along with P4TP and TECTC, is a real must.

Knowledge is power folks. Read more on energy, amaze your friends, and help change the world. We need more energy-literature people in this decade and beyond!


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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

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