Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thorium Update: The SuperFuel Reviews

SuperFuel, the book, and THORIUM, the book

In June, I reviewed Richard Martin's book SuperFuel in this blog.  It wasn't exactly a positive review, as you can tell by the title of my post; SuperFuel, a Book I Wanted to Love.

On Monday, I received my copy of Dr. Robert Hargraves book THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal.  I plan to review it within a few days.

However, before I did that, I thought I would pull together other reviews of the SuperFuel book in one place, if only for reference when I review Hargraves book.

Here's my annotated list of reviews of the book, SuperFuel.

Meredith Angwin at Yes Vermont Yankee
Superfuel, a Book I Wanted to Love
Review summary: This book is full of factual errors. It also spends much time bashing the existing nuclear energy industry. People in favor of light water reactors are "the nuclearati." Rickover is compared to Stalin.  I didn't like the book.

Rick Maltese at ThoriumMSR
Superfuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source, by Richard Martin reviewed
Review summary: A positive review of the book. The review concentrates on  the promise of thorium and how that promise was de-railed.

Rod Adams at Atomic Insights
Rod Adams has four separate posts concerned with this book.  Two are podcast interviews.

Review summary: Fighting amongst nuclear fuels? Why do this, when the world is still dominated by fossil fuels?

Identifying Antinuclear Slants in Richard Martin's Superfuel
Review summary: This book considers thorium the only safe reactor, and talks about the "nuclearati" as "tone-deaf" for pointing out that their technology is safe. Richard Martin may be a fossil fuel wolf in sheep's clothing.
Podcast: Kirk Sorensen Co-Founder FLIBE energy
Podcast summary: Mostly positive discussion of alternative ways of using fission energy and being a nuclear entrepreneur.
Podcast: Richard Martin and Kirk Sorensen: Is Thorium Superior to Uranium?
Podcast summary:   Somewhere about fifteen minutes into the podcast, I stopped listening. Martin was saying that facts don't convince people, so the good safety record of current reactors doesn't matter very much (I am paraphrasing).

I am not good at listening to podcasts: I am very visual-oriented.  When I begin to get irritated, I'm outta there.

As usual, the comments on all Adams' posts are a treat to read, especially the comments on his blog posts (as opposed to his podcasts). His thorium posts have forty and more comments apiece!

Will Davis at Atomic Power Review
Review: "Super-Fuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Resource for the Future."
Review summary: This is a thoughtful book about alternate technologies and deserves a place on the bookshelf. Davis expected more of a rah-rah, airhead book and was pleasantly surprised with this book.

Bob Apthorpe at Overscope
Review: SuperFuel by Richard Martin
Review Summary: A balanced review, pointing out errors and also pointing out where the description of reactor types is excellent.  Overall, however, Apthorpe can only recommend a few chapters of this book as error-and-bias-free enough to be worth the reader's time. He recommends other books instead.
Note: For those of you on Twitter, you know Apthorpe as Arclight.

Guest Post by David Archibald at Watts Up With That
Book Review of SuperFuel
The reviewer points out that the book is full of "howler" errors, but is also useful and interesting.  He is particularly pleased with  the discussion of reactor development history, particularly about Rickover and Weinberg.  The reviewer also says that Martin is a "warmer" ( a person who believes that climate change is taking place) and that hurts the book.


I have been meaning to put this post up for weeks.  Really.  Having received the Hargraves book, I wanted to get this post out of the way.  I have now cleared the decks for the Hargraves review.

I have given my opinion of the gist of each of these reviews.  I hope this was helpful.  I welcome comments (and corrections) from the reviewers themselves or others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Meredith! A good summary of thoughtful reviews from the nuclear and climate-change blogosphere.

The Amazon reviews of this book number about 20 and most of them are very good. There is a repeat of the arclight review and a relatively detailed review by Kirk Sorensen. Worth a trip there for anyone undecided about whether to buy and read Superfuel.