Princeling Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project with a start-up budget of $350m (pounds 217m). He has already recruited 140 PhD scientists, working full-time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. The aim is to break free of the archaic pressurised-water reactors fuelled by uranium - designed for US submarines in the 1950s - opting instead for thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste and cannot blow their top like Japan’s Fukushima plant.
“China is the country to watch,” said Baroness Bryony Worthington, head of the All-Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy, who visited the Shanghai operations recently with a team from Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory. “They are really going for it, and have talented researchers. This could lead to a massive breakthrough.”
The thorium story is by now well-known. Enthusiasts think it could be the transforming technology needed to drive the industrial revolutions of Asia.
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