We recently spent time in Washington DC, meeting engineers and scientists and learned a lot, but two things really stuck out for us.

The first is that a ‘second atomic era’ is coming, starting in the 2020s.

It has to.

That ‘second atomic era’ will likely be based on four transformative principles:

1. Energy that is clean: It doesn’t pollute the environment or leave much waste. That is good for reversing climate change.

2. Energy that is local: It makes power where it’s needed, not far away. This is good for farms, factories, ships, airports, metro systems, data centers and almost everything else.

3. Energy that is sustainable: Energy will come from machines that breed their own fuel in an almost endless cycle. That’s good for economic productivity of future generations.

4. Energy that is a multi-functional system: Connecting reactors to machines that make clean synthetic fuels for airplanes, buses and trains; to machines that desalinate water, make medical radioisotopes and reform and reuse our leftover plastic; to machines that make cement cleanly and that process commodities at sea instead of on land. That really changes the way clean energy is used and is good for the economy in every respect.

The ultimate fuel source of that ‘second atomic era’ has to be Thorium (Th232), which is 23 million times as energy dense as coal.

The ultimate reactor design for using Thorium is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR, pronounced Lifter) which promises an efficiency which is very close to 1.  By positioning the LFTR at the start of the ‘second atomic era’ we will be able to produce energy perpetually, not terminally.

That’s transformative.

Like a power pack; an atomic battery that never runs out of energy, that we can use to power ships directly.

The second thing we learned was a little more about the actual efficiency of the LFTR.

To make 50MW of constant electricity per hour in a marine LFTR, we would use just 38kgs of Thorium, in a whole year.

Large ships with much less power than 50MW (about 68,000 BHP), burn more fuel than that every minute.

Shipowners are hearing this loud and clear.

A new decade is starting in 2 weeks!