Jones Seminar: Radiation Limits to Energy Innovation

Robert Hargraves, ThorCon Team

Friday, November 6, 2015, 3:30–4:30pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall

"Radiation Limits to Energy Innovation" introduces a new type of nuclear reactor in which thorium and uranium fuel is dissolved in molten fluoride salts. Intrinsic passive safety and shipyard-technology steel fabrication lead to electricity cheaper than coal, economically displacing CO2-emitting coal-fired generation. However, billion-dollar regulatory costs prevent innovation. The root cause is unfounded public fear of all ionizing radiation. After Hiroshima, scientific mistruths helped build support for the atmospheric nuclear weapons test ban treaty. Hargraves' talk will provide many examples illustrating the safety and also health benefits of low dose radiation. Yet persisting even today, unscientific regulatory radiation limits add unnecessary costs to nuclear power and keep doctors from administering the best medical care. A new regime of science-based regulation could alleve public fear and unshackle energy innovation, enabling expansion of clean, safe nuclear power to solve the global climate/energy/poverty crises.

About the Speaker

Robert Hargraves has written articles and the book, THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal, about molten salt reactors generating energy cheaper than coal – the only realistic way to dissuade nations from burning fossil fuels. With coauthor Ralph Moir he has written "Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors" in American Scientist, sparking China in 2012 to undertake a $350 million effort to implement this new energy technology. He is now a member of the ThorCon team developing a hybrid thorium/uranium molten salt reactor. Also a study leader at Osher@Dartmouth, he was chief information officer at Boston Scientific Corporation and previously a senior consultant with Arthur D Little. He founded a computer software firm, DTSS Incorporated while at Dartmouth where he was assistant professor of mathematics and associate director of the computation center. He graduated from Brown University (PhD physics) and Dartmouth College (AB mathematics and physics).

For more information, contact Haley Tucker at