Timothy Maloney

commented on 100% Renewables/Clean Energy 2015-05-27 14:50:36 -0700 · Flag
Well, I’ve tried a couple of times to communicate with Bill McKibben, so I’ll give it another go.

Timothy J. Maloney
February 12, 2014

Bill McKibben
350 . org
20 Jay St. Suite 1010
Brooklyn NY 11201

Dear Mr. McKibben,

I am a contributor to and public participant with 350.org. It is possible that you could have seen me at the anti-Keystone rally in Washington last February, carrying the large sign ASK ME ABOUT THORIUM.

350.org actions in Ann Arbor Michigan and Toledo Ohio have been attended also.

Here is a brief letter that was posted on the Truthout.org website, in the Comments section following your recent interview with Bill Moyers. This letter is being sent by postal mail to Mr. Moyers also.


Let us not delude ourselves that we can leave fossil carbon in the ground by using political pressure, or by appealing to generational altruism. That’s not the way the world works in the capitalist era, if it ever did.¬†

To our political and economic elites, long-term environmental preservation has no chance of prevailing over short-term interests. (And we plain citizens are also very reluctant to abandon our comfortable style of living.) If we are to have any chance of preventing tar-sands oil from being mined, it has to be accomplished by rendering the project uneconomical.

Alberta tar-sands production is economically incentivized only by oil prices higher than $50 per barrel. If it is possible to replace gasoline and diesel as transportation fuel with another liquid fuel, for an equivalent oil price less than $50 per barrel, only then will our capitalist economic imperative give up on the Alberta tar sands. No other defense is possible.

There is hope. It lies in the production of synthetic liquid fuels at a cheap price. The candidates are
a) hydrogen; b) ammonia – NH3; and c) hydrazine – N2H4.

For their synthesis, all three of these fuel-candidates require a great amount of electrical energy for water electrolysis and a great amount of heat energy to propel their chemical reactions. If we had available to us prodigious amounts of both electrical energy and process heat, both of them for very cheap prices, manufacturing synfuels at a cost less than gasoline and diesel would be possible.

So our quest is really for a cheap and abundant source of electricity and process heat, in the temperature range of about 1000 deg C.

Such a machine exists. It is the Molten Salt Reactor РMSR. More specifically the Liquid-Fuel Thorium Reactor РLFTR.  It was demonstrated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the ought-to-be-famous MSRE experiment of the 1960s.

That MSR prototype operated with a fuel temperature of about 700 deg C. Engineers and scientists are certain that it’s operating temperature can be raised to 1000 deg C, making it compatible with synfuel-production chemistry.

Its fuel is thorium, which is itself abundant and cheap. Pay no attention to pundits who claim that thorium is not fissile, so cannot fuel a nuclear reactor.

Fuel is stuff that we humans shove into a machine to make it work. Whatever happens to a fuel after it gets inside the machine is part of the machine’s character, not the fuel’s.

Yes, thorium breeds uranium inside the machine, and that bred uranium is the actual atom that undergoes nuclear fission to release energy. The essential point is that we ourselves don’t have to mine or enrich any uranium. We mine only abundant thorium, of which there is enough on the planet to carry us until the end of human civilization – which is forever, from our point of view.

This technology is completely carbon-free in the generation process, and will have a very small CO2 footprint for its plant construction and fuel acquisition. Much lower CO2 emissions than for wind and solar, with their a) mining of exotic metals and rare earth elements; b) steel- and concrete-intensive construction of turbines and solar panels; then c) eventual reprocessing and recycling of the used
PV-panel waste-stream.

Nor does LFTR technology require difficult expansion of the nation’s electric transmission infrastructure, as does the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s – NREL – plan for 80% renewables.

LFTR reactors are always running, 24 hours, 365 days. They require no support from energy-storage or from natural gas combustion turbines – NGCTs. This is quite unlike NREL’s solar, with its miserable¬†17% capacity factor, or wind, with its somewhat better 27% (USA figures).

LFTRs are safe, always running, inexpensive to build and to operate. They are temperature-compatible with synthetic liquid fuels that can undercut the price of petroleum. They are the only conceivable way for humanity to beat fossil energy on price and reliability.

Until we beat them on price and reliability, we’ll never prevent the fossil industry from drilling and excavating.

See www.thoriumenergyalliance.com or www.timothymaloney.net or www.dirkpublishing.com
for more details


Timothy J. Maloney