Rescuing our environment

Public health is stricken by burning wood, dung, and coal. Burning fossil fuels releases atmospheric CO2 that adds to global warming. Benign fission power does not emit atmospheric particulates or CO2. ThorCon can help save lives and rescue our environment.

Thousands of deaths a year are linked to indoor air pollution in India.

Many households cook with fires of wood and dung. In poor locales dung costs roughly 14 cents per kilogram, or 3 cents per kilowatt-hour of its thermal energy. ThorCon power plants can generate energy at 3 cents/kWh.

Fires, Fuel & the Fate of 3 Billion: The State of the Energy-Improverished

A simple hotplate can replace dung and wood fires, but requires about 1800 watts of AC power. A typical rooftop solar panel produces 250 watts DC.

Fires, Fuel & the Fate of 3 Billion 

Outdoor air pollution from burning coal ends more lives each year.

The UN warns that millions of people die prematurely each year from air pollution.

Nearly 600 GW of new coal plants are planned or under construction. Each one will require about 4 million tons of coal per year. Each one will produce between 400,000 and a million tons of ash per year. Each one will produce about 8 million tons of CO2 per year. Health consequences go beyond deadly coal-mining accidents featured in media reports. A respected medical journal, The Lancet, published the Markandya and Wilkinson study of power plant health effects on Europeans. Every year’s air pollution from a 1-GW coal plant creates chronic illness for 200 people, shortening their lives. In aggregate, the 600 new coal plants will require 3 billion tons of coal per year, kill or shorten the lives of about 160,000 people per year, and produce 7 billion tons per year of CO2.

UN IPCC: As CO2 emissions accumulate, global temperatures rise.

The graphs above are by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC), which publishes consensus reports that summarize research by climate scientists. CO2 in the air acts as insulation slowing infra-red radiation escaping the earth. Adding CO2 increases the temperature at which the emitted radiation and incident sunlight energies will balance. On the left are hypothetical scenarios for accumulated atmospheric CO2.  Scientists compute the corresponding average temperatures on the right. The corresponding color bars represent variability from other climate effects. As of 2018 CO2 emissions are still rising and the world is on the RCP8.5 business-as-usual path with global temperatures rising 4°C by 2100.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was signed by 195 nations that pledged their own, volunteered reductions in CO2 emissions. If all nations met their pledges, CO2 reductions would drop by 3 gigatons per year from the 2010 Cancun agreed policy. The UN reports the Paris Agreement cuts are not nearly sufficient. Worse, CO2 emissions are actually rising, despite the Cancun policies and Paris pledges. ThorCon can help.

           1-GW coal plant emits 8 Mt CO2 a year.

Each new 1 GW coal-fired power plant will add to the atmosphere about 8 million tons of CO2 per year, or 320 million tons in a 40 year life. 

Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and Global Energy Monitor report in 2019 that 574 GW of new coal power plants are in active development.

Each 1 GW of ThorCon power that displaces a coal plant avoids 320 million tons of CO2. ThorCon power is both environmentally and economically attractive because it’s cheaper than coal.

Natural gas is displacing coal but still emits about half the CO2. ThorCon is competitive with natural gas and cheaper than LNG (liquified natural gas) power. With shipyard mass production of ThorCon power plants, by mid century we can end CO2 from burning coal and natural gas for electricity generation.

To end emissions from other uses of fossil fuels, electrify everything. Battery electric vehicles are one example. Other opportunities include building heating, advanced materials, ammonia production, and fuels using hydrogen from water electrolysis. Full electrification by 2100 with a world population of 9.5 billion would create electric power demand of about 12,000 GW. ending fossil fuel power, CO2 emissions, and global warming. Net-zero emissions energy systems presents the science.