It may sound like something from a comic book and takes its name from a certain heroic mythical deity but thorium is very real and is considered one of the most exciting future fuels thanks to its abundance and supposed stability when compared to uranium.
Given that the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 raised "fundamental questions about the future of nuclear energy throughout the world", it should not come as a surprise that news of a nuclear "wonder fuel" has created excitement within the alternative energy industry at a time when growth is expected to slow compared with previous forecasts for the next decade.
Earlier this month reports said that the Norwegian government, in concert with United States-based Westinghouse and the aptly named Thor Energy, was the latest country running thorium trials as part of its own nuclear energy ambitions - hoping that Norway could one day replace uranium.
The advantages to be gained from this for the Norwegians include that it already has extensive reserves of the radioactive element.
China and India are also said to be considering the inclusion of thorium-powered nuclear plants as part of their national programmes. India is reported to be leading the way in efforts to replace uranium with thorium.
Thorium-232, a silvery-white metal, has a half-life of 14.05 billion years compared with 4.47 billion years for uranium-238. Its reported advantages over uranium, apart from greater stability and abundance, also include greater energy production and less waste.
The safe management and the disposal of radioactive waste and spent fuel remain key issues for the industry. Supporters of the use of thorium include Bill Gates, the American billionaire. Canada, Germany, the US and the United Kingdom have already experimented with it as a substitute nuclear fuel.
However, the change to thorium may not come as quickly as reports may suggest as a switch will require an industry-wide change from heavy-water nuclear reactors to molten salt or pebble reactors that are better suited to its use.