Conference convenes in New York to discuss thorium energy

Jason Ford

News Editor

With the Generic Design Assessment of the AP1000 and UK EPR still ongoing, advocates of a non-uranium based reactor convene this week in New York to discuss thorium energy.

Advocates of thorium claim the element possesses more energy and is more abundant than uranium yet creates substantially less radioactive waste. Potential thorium reactors wouldn’t produce plutonium either, much to the satisfaction of those opposed to nuclear weapons.

Representatives from the UK include DECC’s Robert Arnold and John Duncan from the Foreign Office.

Arnold will be delivering ‘New nuclear technologies and the UK energy strategy’, an overview of the potential scale and applications for new nuclear build, the regulatory environment for licensing reactors and the opportunity for the use of thorium-based designs.

In a session entitled ’Unconventional alliances’, John Duncan will ask if an alliance between diplomats and scientists could reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

The Thorium Energy Conference (ThEC11) begins today and ends on Wednesday 12 October. A petition currently active in the US requires 25,000 signatures to escalate the Thorium agenda to the White House. Click here to learn more.

Last week The Engineer covered an IMechE report that warned of a potential lack of engineers to help deliver large infrastructure projects.

This week, Marsh hosts a conference in London entitled ‘Infrastructure risk: navigating financing challenges’ that will bring together owners, operators, financiers and regulators in the global infrastructure sector.

In publicity material, Edwin Charnaud, managing director of Marsh’s Infrastructure Practice, said: ‘The future capital and funding needs for global infrastructure investment are enormous.

‘However, slow recovery in global financial markets and depleted public funds mean that sourcing investment is a huge challenge. Making sure that risk is understood and well managed is the key to ensuring that the global economy gets the investment needed for infrastructure development.’

Nanotechnology, Ceram and the Materials KTN are presenting a two-day conference on Wednesday and Thursday this week regarding the application of bioactive glass and ceramics at the nanoscale to healthcare and high-tech industries.

The conference programme will include subjects such as bioactive bone replacement materials; bioactive and nano-structured glasses and ceramics for tissue regeneration; controlled release technology; and novel bioceramics in dentistry.

According to the organisers, the use of novel nanoceramics is rapidly growing in orthopaedics, regenerative medicine, biosensing, controlled drug release, high-performance coatings and functionalised biomaterials, due to their excellent properties and biocompatibility.

High-performance, functional and sensor ceramics are also finding use in the electronics and associated industries.

Finally, a reminder that professional and amateur photographers have a month left to submit entries to the EEF Heroes of Modern UK Manufacturing Photography Competition.

As mentioned in the 13 June Briefing, the competition is asking photographers to capture the people, products, places and processes that capture UK manufacturing at its best.

Winners, who will share £5,000 of prize vouchers from Canon, will be announced at the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards in January 2012. More details can be found here: http://www.eef.org.uk/photo.

Briefing is tempted to suggest a photo shoot in Broughton this Thursday where Airbus is opening its North Factory. The facility will house the assembly of wings for the Airbus A350XWB.

More than half of the wing will be built using lightweight composite material, leading to a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency.