Roland Weihrauch / AP

Researchers at a nuclear research facility in the Netherlands are working on building up molten-salt nuclear reactors that would use thorium as a fuel, according to New Scientist. Using thorium to produce nuclear power is considered to be much more stable than using uranium to power nuclear reactors, but using uranium is more common.

That may be due to Cold War strategic decisions: uranium-based reactors can produce plutonium, which has been desirable for making nuclear weapons. Another reason may be cost: fuel fabrication costs using thorium are driven up due to the high level of radioactivity built up in U-233, the fissile fuel material that thorium can get transformed into when it's bombarded with neutrons, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Why thorium is safer: When thorium gets transformed into U-233, it leaves fewer long-lived radioactive waste products than U-235 (which is usually what is now used in nuclear power plants).

Other benefits: Thorium is more abundant in nature than uranium and it would serve as a poor input for fissile materials, making one of the risks of developing nuclear power — that it could be used to create weapons — moot.

What's next: The researchers in the Netherlands will study metal alloys and materials that can survive high heat and the corrosive conditions inside such reactors, as well as how to handle waste.

India, China, and a Utah startup are also currently investing in thorium-based nuclear power.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.