The Norwegian government plans to conduct trial usage of the nuclear fuel thorium, considered by many to be one of the most promising future energy sources, at its existing nuclear facilities.
Business Insider reports that the Norwegian government will be conducting the trials in collaboration with the USA’s Westinghouse and Norway’s own Thor Energy.
Despite abundant oil reserves which have made Norway one of the world’s most affluent countries on a per capita GDP basis, the Scandinavian nation has always been a strong advocate of nuclear power, no doubt partially due to its extensive thorium deposits.
Thorium was in fact first discovered by a Norwegian mineralogist, who named the radioactive mineral after the Norse god of thunder.
Thorium is touted by many, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as a preferable alternative to uranium as a nuclear fuel source. Its key advantages vis-a-vis uranium include greater abundance, improved power generation, less waste, and most crucially the fact that thorium plants are considered to be impervious to meltdowns.
China and India are also currently considering the inclusion of thorium-powered nuclear plants as significant components of their national energy portfolios.
The Norwegian trials will make use of an existing heavy-water nuclear reactor, instead of the molten salt or pebble bed reactors which are considered to be best suited to thorium power generation.