Nuclear scientists are being urged by the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to develop thorium as a new fuel.
Mr Blix says that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium.
It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons.
His comments will add to growing levels of interest in thorium, but critics warn that developing new reactors could waste public funds.
Thorium should be safer in reactors - and it is almost impossible to make a bomb out of thorium.
These are very major factors as the world looks for future energy supplies and terrorism
Hans Blix Hans Blix says the world should try its best to develop thorium
His enthusiasm is shared by some in the British nuclear establishment. Scientists at the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) have been encouraged by the government to help research on an Indian thorium-based reactor, and on a test programme in Norway.
The Norway tests at the OECD’s nuclear trials facility in Halden are conducted in a Bond-style underground bunker.
The thorium tests are being carried out by a private firm, Thor Energy (the element itself was discovered in Norway in 1828 and named after the Norse god of thunder).