Synopses & Reviews
A riveting look at how an alternative source of energy is revoluntionising nuclear power, promising a safe and clean future for millions, and why thorium was sidelined at the height of the Cold War
In this groundbreaking account of an energy revolution in the making, award-winning science writer Richard Martin introduces us to thorium, a radioactive element and alternative nuclear fuel that is far safer, cleaner, and more abundant than uranium.
At the dawn of the Atomic Age, thorium and uranium seemed to be in close competition as the fuel of the future. Uranium, with its ability to undergo fission and produce explosive material for atomic weapons, won out over its more pacific sister element, relegating thorium to the dustbin of science.
Now, as we grapple with the perils of nuclear energy and rogue atomic weapons, and mankind confronts the specter of global climate change, thorium is re-emerging as the overlooked energy source as a small group of activists and outsiders is working, with the help of Silicon Valley investors, to build a thorium-power industry.
In the first book mainstream book to tackle these issues, Superfuel is a story of rediscovery of a long lost technology that has the power to transform the world's future, and the story of the pacifists, who were sidelined in favour of atomic weapon hawks, but who can wean us off our fossil-fuel addiction and avert the risk of nuclear meltdown for ever.
“Besides briefly covering everything technical you need to know about the 90th element on the periodic table, SuperFuel provides engaging detail on the history and likely future of using thorium as a comparatively safe and substantially beneficial nuclear fuel . . . [Martin] makes a solid, convincing case for thorium as a superfuel, not simply to replace uranium, but to reduce the use of much dirtier fuels such as coal . . . With readable presentations like SuperFuel, the path to a better energy future just got a little easier.”—The Washington Times
“Makes the case that thorium, an abundant, safe element that cannot easily be turned into a weapon, should be fuelling our reactors instead of uranium…Martin is at his best when describing the human struggles of the cold-war era that spelled their…convincing.”—New Scientist
“Traces the history of nuclear power development. . . Recommended.”-Choice
"Richard Martin has done an exemplary job of exploring a technically demanding subject in a gripping narrative form. The implications of this subject could not be more vital -- for oil prices, energy security, the chances of coping with climate change -- and 'Superfuel' clearly and fairly spells out the reasons for both optimism and for caution. If every technical book were written in this clear and engaging a style, we'd all be a lot better informed! I am very glad to have read this book."--James Fallows, The Atlantic, author of China Airborne
"Bringing back to light a long-lost technology that should never have been lost, this fascinating and important biography of thorium also brings us a commodity thats rare in discussions of energy and climate change: hope."-- Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired
"Thorium is the younger sister to uranium, less volatile, slower to self-consume, and as many have contended without success, much better suited as a source of nuclear power than uranium. Superfuel by award-winning science writer Richard Martin tells the Cinderella story of thorium in a fast-paced, insiders account. This short, well-written book is a must read for those interested in understanding thoriums past and its potential to be a clean, renewable energy source for the future."-- Cynthia Kelly, President Atomic Heritage Foundation
"Our future energy supplies rely upon hard choices. Richard Martin educates us on our troubled history with nuclear energy, and even more importantly, how to develop this essential source of 21st century clean energy. This is the type of book that can make a difference!" --John Hofmeister, author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies
“The story of the slightly radioactive element thorium, a much-touted alternative fuel for nuclear power plants. Abundant in the Earths crust, thorium has been used in various industrial processes since its discovery in 1828. Advocates, writes Martin, an award-winning journalist and senior research analyst for Pike Research, a clean energy firm, say the silver-gray element has another possible use: as a cheap, safe energy source with the potential to solve our power crisis.…A lucid overview of a still-developing chapter in the story of nuclear power.” -Kirkus Reviews
At the dawn of the atomic age, uranium and thorium were equally important as the elements of choice in researching nuclear energy - either one could have powered the world's reactors. But it was uranium that won out, and thorium, which is far cleaner, safer, and more abundant than uranium, was relegated to the dustbin of science. With it went the possibility of creating a low-risk nuclear energy source to power our planet. Now, as the world searches for cheap, non-carbon-emitting energy sources, thorium is reemerging as an overlooked solution. As one of the first energy experts to promote the development of thorium, award-winning science writer Richard Martin combines science, new historical research, and a timely business narrative to show how we can wean ourselves off our fossil-fuel addiction and shift to a lower-risk energy source. At once a big think book and a science manifesto, SuperFuel challenges us to look back at what could have been different in history as well as forward to an energy revolution in the making.
About the Author
Richard Martin is an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in Wired, Time, Fortune, The Atlantic, and The Best Science Writing of 2004. He is the editorial director of Pike Research, a leading clean energy firm. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.