United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?
The 40 MWe Peach Bottom HTR in the USA was a demonstration thorium-fueled reactor that ran from 1967-74. and produced a total of 33 billion kWh.
The 330 MWe Fort St Vrain HTR in Colorado, USA, ran from 1976-89. Almost 25 tons of thorium was used in fuel for the reactor.
However, after 10 years passed and billions invested, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission abandoned thorium research, with uranium-fueled nuclear power becoming the standard. In the 1980s, commercial thorium ventures failed, such as the Indian Point Unit I water reactor near New York City, because of the vast financial costs and fuel and equipment failures. By the 1990s, the US nuclear power industry had abandoned thorium, partly because thorium’s breeding ratio was thought insufficient to produce enough fuel for commercial industries.
Some research and development is still conducted, but it is more concentrated in protecting the U.S. leading position in monitoring and controlling existing nuclear technology. Even the Netherlands is developing a molten salt thorium reactor.