Nuclear power is a sad story. It holds a promise of being cheap, clean, abundant, and safe. Yet, political ambition for conquest and domination have ruined the entire concept and made it politically toxic for at least two generations ahead.
There are two elements that we know how to use as fuel for nuclear power: uranium and thorium. Each fuel has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The fission process of uranium is incomplete, meaning that its waste products are highly radioactive for tens of thousands of years. In contrast, thorium fissions almost completely, meaning that all radioactivity is harnessed into energy. The waste is therefore not long-term radioactive, and the small rest of radioactivity that there still is (200 times less than with uranium waste) becomes harmless in a human lifetime, not in 100,000 years.
The uranium fission is supercritical, meaning that if left unchecked, it will quickly spiral out of control with Fukushima-grade consequences. Therefore, it must be given complete and constant attention. In contrast, the thorium fission process is subcritical, meaning that it needs a constant nudge (external neutron flow) to stay going. Therefore, a thorium reactor cannot melt down. This should not be read in a Marketing tone-of-voice, as in “we have redundant patented safety”, but in a Physicist tone of voice, as in “would violate the laws of physics”; “just like a bottle of water in the Sahara sun can’t spontaneously turn into ice”. A thorium reactor is walk-away safe.
Uranium requires enrichment as it is mined, as only 0.7% of the mineral is usable for nuclear power. In contrast, 100% of mined thorium is directly usable as nuclear fuel, right out of the ground.
The net energy output of thorium fuel is about 300 times higher than uranium fuel, kilo by kilo of fuel, due to the fission process being complete and not just burning a few percent of the material. (As a side effect, as already mentioned, this also leads to the waste not being radioactive.)
Uranium is a rare mineral, and it must be further enriched before being fuelworthy. In contrast, thorium is quite plentiful — it is about as common as ordinary lead in the earth’s crust.
So why, then, why were billions and billions of taxpayer money funneled into development of uranium-fueled nuclear plants?
I have a theory. It is only a theory, and I have no documents that would prove it, but I can’t think of any other reason that makes sense. Recall how the waste of a thorium reactor is not long-term radioactive? There’s a strong reason, right there.
Thorium reactors don’t have weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct.
The warmongers have destroyed the potential of clean, abundant, safe, and cheap energy for certainly the next 50 years, making thorium politically toxic to the extent that any mention of nuclear-type power will be associated with the dangerous, poisonous and risky process that produces raw material for thermonuclear weapons.
(So what does this have to do with information policy? A lot. Information policy includes accountability of elected leaders, transparency of government, and quality legislation. What has happened with nuclear power is, simply put, a gross mismanagement of government. Decisions were made to not build the best power plant, but the most nuclear weapons.)
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. Apparently, my educated guess above was met with a “duh!” in some circles, apparently being a well known fact, and the first decisionmaker responsible for choosing to fund development of uranium reactors over thorium reactors for that exact reason — that uranium reactors generate plutonium — was Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Thanks to Lars Ivar Igesund.
UPDATE 2: As pointed out in the comments, it is theoretically possible to design a bad thorium reactor and a better uranium reactor (using molten salt type reactors) as well. In this article, I discuss the already-designed types of reactors for these two fuels, so when I write the uranium fission process, what I technically mean is …as it looks in the reactor we have built for it. Perhaps a nitpicking point, but it was rightly pointed out in the comments as a factual omission.