With the global spotlight firmly back on the safety of nuclear power following Japan's tsunami and the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, China is looking at spearheading efforts to make the industry safer. The Chinese are investing millions in research into reactors powered by the element Thorium -- a metal, proponents say, as common as lead, and one which, despite some concerns, would lead to power plants with fewer safety issues as well as other benefits. "Thorium-based reactors certainly have advantages," says Wang Kan, leader of the Tsinghua University Thorium Research Team.
"The energy release from Thorium is greater than from Uranium, the by-products from using Thorium are less toxic than from Uranium, and it's much harder to make weapons from those by-products."
The public outcry following the problems at the Fukushima plant led to Beijing putting a freeze on approvals of new nuclear power stations, and safety checks at all 25 which are currently under construction.
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