Colorado Energy and Pollution Crisis By: Zach Klaus, Dillon Homer, Matthew Mcpeck

- The problem -

In Current time Coal and natural gas are the top two energy sources that Colorado uses. Natural and Coal in total put together are 800+ trillion Btu’s. Btu is British Thermal Unit, it is a unit of measurement that tells you how much energy you have used for heat.Colorado's vast fossil fuel resources include the Niobrara Shale, with resource estimates running as high as 2 billion barrels of oil. From 2004 to 2014, crude oil production in Colorado more than quadrupled. In 2014, 60% of the electricity generated in Colorado came from coal, 22% from natural gas, and 18% from renewable energy resources. Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard requires investor-owned electric utilities to provide 30% of electricity sold from renewable energy sources by 2020, with 3% coming from distributed generation. In 2014, Colorado’s grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity of 430 megawatts was the ninth largest in the United States, and the state obtained nearly 10 times as much net generation from solar power as it did just 5 years earlier in 2009. Average household energy costs in Colorado ($1,551 per year) are 23 percent less than the national average, primarily due to historically lower natural gas prices in the state, according to EIA's Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

- Past -

Coal mining in Colorado dates back to 1859, when a pair of men started mining in coal deposits between the gold rush settlements of Denver and Boulder. Colorado’s early history was one of discontent on the part of miners. The work was dangerous and Colorado’s death rate in the mines was very high. In 1917, 121 people died in the Hasting Mine explosion. Erie, Colorado claims the first mining union in Colorado, which was the Knights of Labor, established in 1878. A state wide strike called in September of 1913 resulting in the Ludlow Massacre. Neutralized by the dispatch of federal troops after ten days of skirmishes. This lead to suspended most activities in Colorado. In the meanwhile the organization grew stronger in the East until 1920 when it collapsed after a national strike. In 1927-28 strike is best remember of the Columbine mine massacre. This strike also led directly to the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company’s decision to unionize the workforce. The President of the company Josephine Roche announced that she would recognize any union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. This action successfully shut down 113 of the state’s 125 coal mines. In 1928 the United Mine Workers was awarded the first contract in Colorado.

Firestone, CO 1865

- How we can solve this problem -

Thorium Nuclear Reactor Plant

Thorium v Uranium

Based only on pros (cons self explanatory)
Reactors and Explanation

Basic LFTR schematics:


Basic LWR schematics:



  • A heavy water reactor uses and average of 0.7% of Uranium’s energy value.
  • A light water reactor used even less at an average of 0.5% of Uranium’s energy value.
  • Water’s low boiling point is only at 100 degrees. This is a problem because when it turns to steam is causes rapid expansion and pressure. If emergency coolant is not added quickly it will easily cause the plant to melt releasing radiated water vapor throughout the plant or worse, the surrounding area. Example: Fukushima
  • Unlike solid metals that will melt down if not cooled, liquid fluoride is already melted.
  • If power to the plant gets cut unexpectedly, the plant will automatically shut down safely unlike LWR’s and HWR’s that require energy to keep water flowing.
  • Scientists say Thorium is so energy dense, you can hold on entire lifetime supply of energy in the palm of your hand.

North East Denver

  • Provides a variety of rail lines to ship in supplies/resources needed.
  • Nearby airport for emergencies (If experts needed to fly in for any reason)
  • Variety of energy storage locations throughout the city with good delivery of energy.
  • Denver is an engineer hotspot
Great area for reactor plant

- What would it cost in USD -

  • An average reactor plant (uranium based) costs around 1.1 billion dollars
  • The thorium reactor would cost much less at around 780 hundred million dollars
  • Average price of farmland comes to around $1,100 per acre which is actually the cheapest price out of all the regions in the country

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