House of Lords, London, 8th September 2011 – A new, not-for-profit lobby group for safe nuclear energy launches today at a reception in the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Worthington, Labour peer, climate change campaigner and the organisation’s patron.
Named to honour the pioneering nuclear physicist Alvin Martin Weinberg (1915-2006), The Weinberg Foundation advocates the transition away from uranium solid-fuelled reactors toward the development and adoption of clean, safe liquid-fuelled reactors based on thorium. These reactors are called Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactors, or LFTRs, and their fundamental advantages include:
Safety: LFTRs operate at low pressure and are chemically stable. They shut down passively and remove decay heat without human intervention or mechanical systems, eliminating the possibility of accident scenarios such as that at Fukushima
Cleaner: Today's reactors consume less than one percent of their uranium fuel, leaving the rest as waste. LFTRs consume 99% of their thorium fuel
Peaceful: Thorium and its derivative fuel, uranium-233, are highly unsuitable for nuclear weapons; of the thousands of warheads in the world's arsenals, not one is based on the thorium fuel cycle
Scalable: LFTRs are well-suited to mass production in factories, modular design, and rapid deployment in a wide variety of sizes to sites near the point of need.
Kirk Sorensen, a widely respected nuclear technologist, former NASA engineer and leading authority on thorium is a guest speaker at the launch. Sorensen is a co-founder of Flibe Energy and the originator of EnergyFromThorium which present a compelling case for scalable, modular Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs). He is addressing the launch reception as part of a wider UK agenda, including a visit to Sellafield.
Heading a global shift towards clean nuclear power, Chinese media formally announced a programme this year to develop a thorium-fuelled molten-salt nuclear reactor. Success of the multi-million dollar endeavour would establishChinaas a world leader in generating safe, cost-effective and politically palatable thorium energy.
Amidst a growing crowd of environmental campaign groups, NGOs and guarded optimists on the thorium podium, Bryony Worthington has nailed her colours to the mast in accepting patronage of the Foundation and hosts the inaugural event.
"The world desperately needs safe, sustainable, low-carbon energy to address the impacts of climate change while lifting people out of poverty,” opens the Baroness.
“The Weinberg Foundation is an important and timely lobby which has my full support in achieving its goal of putting Thorium-fuelled reactor technology at the top of the global energy agenda. LFTRs, such as that designed by the late Alvin Weinberg, could radically change perceptions of nuclear power leading to widespread deployment.”
Alvin Weinberg's son, Richard, will give a short address at the reception; bringing an authentic and unique insider dimension to the thorium story and sharing his hope of realising his father’s vision within his lifetime.
During the 50's and 60's, Alvin Weinberg led the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States, and pioneered liquid-fuelled thorium energy. Despite its many benefits, US policy at the time was not focused on nuclear safety or reduction of waste, but rather on maximizing plutonium production. Since the thorium technology did not produce plutonium, its funding was withdrawn and development stalled.
Creating awareness of this game-changing nuclear alternative is The Weinberg Foundation’s core mission. Co-founders John Durham, Laurence O’Hagan and JoAnne Fishburn combine a valuable skill-set in technological know-how and environmental campaigning to drive the agenda. Top of which is to establish influential working groups among world energy experts and collaborate with like-minded organisations.
John Durham, co-founder of The Weinberg Foundation and environmental philanthropist articulates the point: “The abundance, safety and proliferation-resistance of Thorium, utilised in proven reactor platforms, presents real hope for a viable and peaceful solution to our global energy needs - from desalination in desperately arid regions to lighting our homes and cities.
“We must seize this time and the clear inclination of progressive nations to make safe nuclear energy a reality.”
Important note to editors:
The launch reception for The Weinberg Foundation is an invitation-only event, 6pm-8pm on Thursday 8th September at the House of Lords.
For enquiries into interviews please contact Sophia Henri:
Sophia.firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +44 (0)7793 555403
Also on 8th September in London, Baroness Worthington and Kirk Sorensen have been invited as guest panelists at The British Science Festival press launch at the Science Museum in London from 9am.
To register for the press centre at the British Science Festival, please visit;
“I was uniquely privileged to spend several periods at Alvin’s Weinberg’s Institute for Energy Analysis at Oak Ridge in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was enormously stimulating – one the greatest influences on my life. His 1972 article on ‘Science and Trans-science’ immediately became a seminal contribution to science policy and remains relevant to this day. Similarly, his hugely perceptive thinking on the role of nuclear electricity was decades ahead of its time”.
- Professor David Cope, Director of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
Collaborating with like-minded global organisations, the Foundation's mission is to drive awareness, research and commercialisation of cleaner and safer, nuclear reactor technologies, fuelled by Thorium.
The Foundation operates out of Somerset House in central London.