Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tesla's wild rise and European plan

Tesla's market capitalization blew past $500 billion for the first time Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's just a number, but kind of a wild one. Consider, via CNN: "Tesla is now worth more than the combined market value of most of the world's major automakers: Toyota, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and its merger partner PSA Group."

Dave Lawler, author of World
50 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
2 hours ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.