JEFF (Caller): Thank you. Tons of questions but one pops out is what can you say about these thorium-based nuclear reactors? I've heard - I've read good things about them, but no one wants to get it off the ground.
FLATOW: What are the features of - what is the future of nuclear reactors?
Dr. HOLDREN: I think there are a lot of interesting concepts in the nuclear reactor domain that are still being explored. The thorium-fueled ideas have been looked at from really many decades. For 50 years, people have been interested in thorium-fueled nuclear reactors, but there are some very substantial technical challenges in the way of making the thorium cycle really attractive. And nobody has up until now really demonstrated that those challenges can be overcome in a way that would make thorium reactors economically competitive.
I think a more interesting idea, which is reflected with a modest amount of money in the president's 2012 budget proposal, are the small modular nuclear reactors which could be manufactured in, basically, assembly-line way, would have the potential for getting the cost down, are potentially economically attractive in much smaller sizes than the nuclear reactors we've been relying on. That makes them applicable in a wider variety of places. And they could be basically switched out and returned whole to the manufacturers so there wouldn't be any spent fuel that could be used for nuclear bomb making left behind after the reactor has lived out its useful life.
Comment: Obama needs to fire Holdren. Not only does he exagerate the LFtr challenges, he seems opposed to doing anything to overcome them. LFTRs are ideal as small modular reactors. They are highly efficient, and can be built in small packages.