Perhaps the uranium industry’s fear of peak uranium is unfounded. Intellectual Ventures is preparing to spin off a company called TerraPower to develop nuclear reactors that run primarily on depleted uranium. While most nuclear reactors use enriched uranium, the depleted variety has many advantages— most importantly, a smaller amount of uranium is required to create the same amount of power.
Since less uranium is necessary, the risk of nuclear proliferation is reduced, as is the amount of toxic waste created. According to TerraPower, available supplies of depleted uranium could be used for centuries— maybe even thousands of years.
The company’s reactors will vary from only a few megawatts (enough for industrial sites) to multi-gigawatts (enough for large cities). TerraPower may also use thorium to power future reactor sites.
Photo Credit: CC-Licensed by Flickr user bionerd
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.