Hans Blix talks thorium energy and nuclear non-proliferation

As part of a recent conference at CERN on thorium energy, Hans Blix spoke of the element's possibilities as a safer source of nuclear energy

Hans Blix speaks to CERN about thorium energy, nuclear safety and non-proliferation (Video: CERN)

The Thorium Energy Conference, ThEC13, ran from 27 to 31 October at CERN, addressing the scientific and technical advances offered by thorium – a silvery white metal four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth's crust – in alternative nuclear technologies for energy production and for the destruction of nuclear waste.

Conference Chair Egil Lillestol invited Swedish diplomat and politician Hans Blix to talk about "Thorium Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation". In a career spanning more than 50 years, Blix has been head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.

Blix highlighted the advantages of thorium in terms of safety, disposal of radioactive waste, and nuclear non-proliferation. "Some people are worried about the spread of nuclear weapons through the use of nuclear techniques," he says. "With thorium you cannot get a material from which you can make bombs. It's very satisfactory from this point of view."

During the 1990s, CERN pioneered research into thorium technologies with experiments instigated by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia, testing the basic concepts of a thorium-fuelled reactor driven by a proton accelerator.

Find out more about the conference