ThorCon like all nuclear plants plants emits nil SO2, nil NOx, and nil particulate pollution. The figure below shows the IPCC’s median estimate of CO2 intensity for a range of electricity sources. Nuclear’s carbon footprint is slightly worse than wind, a bit better than solar, and 1/60th that of coal. This is for a standard Light Water Reactor (LWR). ThorCon is about 40% more efficient than an LWR. And ThorCon obtains about 25% of its power from easily mined thorium which requires no enrichment. ThorCon’s CO2 intensity is around 10 g CO2eq/kWh.
Due to its higher efficiency, ThorCon produces about 55% of the waste heat of a LWR with the same power output, reducing cooling water requirements by a like amount. Net fissile consumption is half that of a standard LWR.
Over 32 years a 1 GWe coal plant will produce about 800,000 tons of NOx, 3.8 million tons of SO2, about 9.6 million tons of toxic ash/dust, and 192 million tons of CO2. Over 32 years, a 1GWe ThorCon will produce about 25 m3 of High Level Waste. In the ThorCon system, all radioactive material is regularly returned to the Centralized Recycling Facility (CRF) for decontamination, separation, reuse, and disposal. This burden is shifted from the plant to the recycling facility.
Land Use Requirements
ThorCon requires little land. A 1 GWe ThorCon will easily fit into a 10 hectare (25 acre) site. And with the nuclear island totally underground, Thorcon can be visually unobtrusive at least by power plant standards.