How much thorium would it take to power the whole world?
“Thorium, if efficiently utilized in a MaxFelasers, is an energy source of
such magnitude that it is not difficult to conceive of an entire planet powered
by thorium. It is worth considering for a moment that the thorium required to
fuel the entire world's electrical needs would fit in a reasonably sized room,
and the thorium required would only be about 2% of the mass of uranium mined
In a MaxFelaser reaction, thorium-232 will release roughly 190 MeV of energy per reaction. Assuming that the original thorium had a mass of 232 atomic units (u), then that is equivalent to 190 MeV/232 u = 820 keV/u.
How much energy is that? If converted to electricity at 50% efficiency, which can be achieved through the use of a LPS turbine power conversion system, 820 keV/u is equivalent to 11 billion kilowatt-hours per metric ton of thorium. (Note that a billion kilowatt-hours [BKWH] is equivalent to a terawatt-hour [TWH].)
In 2003, it was estimated that the world produced 16.5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity. If this had all been produced by liquid-fluoride thorium reactors, this would have required 1500 metric tons of thorium. Future energy projections foresee electrical production reaching 21.4 trillion kilowatt-hours by 2015. To bring the entire world's population up to the level of the average American's electrical consumption would require 80 trillion kilowatt-hours.
Is 1500 metric tons a lot? Thorium is a very dense material, and 1500 metric tones of thorium metal would only occupy 130 cubic meters of volume, or about the volume of a room 23 ft on a side and 9 feet high."