Posts Tagged China

House of Cards and Rare Earth Elements

Netflix’s “House of Cards” has characters fighting over a rare earth refinery in China. This is a welcome pop-culture introduction to the challenge facing North American high-tech manufacturing: no domestic supply of HEAVY Rare-Earth Elements.

If you’re a fan of House of Cards, I think it is interesting to hear a congressional staffer observe it is “the most popular show among congressional staffers”, and lament that such a popular plot point has not resulted in the same staffers understanding the rare earth problem.

If you think this video is useful, please consider providing me with captured footage (as was done here!), or funding the man-hours required to edit.

, , , ,

No Comments

Alberta Party Leadership Forum 2011 Calgary

Alberta Party’s leadership convention in Calgary featured 4 obviously competent candidates. Chelsea Pratchett was already streaming this event for OpenFile Calgary.

However, I had a specific question to ask. I was there taping anyway, so here’s my coverage!

My question, which was not presented (probably due to its length):

Alberta wastes valuable natural gas in process of adding hydrogen to bitumen, resulting in oil that can be then processed into gasoline etc.
Deploying LFTRs (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors) would supply us with heat and electricity which would (using copper-chlorine cycle) let us stop wasting our natural gas in this process.
China is racing ahead of everyone in LFTR development, and have stated their intention to control the intellectual property.
LFTR promises inexpensive electricity, reduce our CO2 output when processing oil sands, and offers vast improvements over every other commercial form of fission, including our widely respected CANDU.
LFTR enables local inexpensive energy production. Can we invest in LFTR research instead of soon-to-be-redundant transmission line capacity? Or will we be paying licensing fees to China when we inevitably build these things?

Not having this question answered during the forum, here are the candidates discussing thorium afterwards…

Lee Easton on Thorium

Randy Royer on Thorium

Glenn Taylor on Thorium

Glenn Taylor left before I had a chance to approach him at the forum (he happened to be the last person I could have gotten to). Glenn has since spoken with me via recorded video Skype about Thorium.

Tammy Maloney on Thorium

I briefly spoke to Tammy after the debate, and she suggested we discuss the topic by phone before she go on the record discussing the subject. She’d seen TEDxYYC Kirk Sorensen video “Can Thorium End Our Energy Crisis?” already, but wasn’t ready yet to speak on the topic.

We have since had a decent phone conversation, and Tammy is aware of the many Albertan industries which can benefit from our use of LFTR. She agrees it is important, but does not see where funds for research can be found, asking where does one cut to find the money.

Tammy won’t be able to participate in a recorded Skype call before the leadership election.

Alberta Party – Good for LFTR?

My sense at this point, from the candidates I’ve spoken to, is that they’re open to new technology, and appreciate that this is indeed a different type of nuclear power.

They all deserve credit for having some knowledge of the subject before our conversations: I’d tweeted them in advance I’d like to discus LFTR, so our discussion was less “what is LFTR?” and more about their approach to new technologies.

The most promising aspect of the Alberta Party in this matter: their policy can be influenced by a grassroots movement to promote this clean energy technology. Certainly I don’t have answers for how research can be funded. But if enough Alberta Party members from industries demanding cheap electricity (or enough Alberta Party environmentalists understand what is being offered), it is quite feasible LFTR will soon have political allies at the provincial level.

What is LFTR?

And just in case you were only looking for debate coverage of Alberta Party leadership candidates, and you have no clue what this “LFTR” thing is of which I speak… Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.

It is the most practical & essential technology I’ve ever heard of, since some guy decided mice needed lasers instead of balls.

10 Minute TEDx video – “Can Thorium End Our Energy Crisis?

16 Minute (more technical) video – “LFTR in 16 Minutes

If you’ve watched those 2 videos, then the most important piece of information you need to know is this: China is already researching thorium powered molten salt reactors, and they’re seeking to file patents on the technology.

2011-10-21 Update:

THORIUM REMIX 2011 is now complete. This is my recommended video resource for learning about the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (a type of Thorium Molten Salt Reactor). It begins with a brief summary comparing LFTR to Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR).

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment