Power Reactors (Thorium) in India since 2008!

Power Reactors (Thorium) in India since 2008!

Thorium Power  Reactors have been in India since 2008, Next Year the First of Seven Full Scale Thorium Power Reactors Goes Online!

On April 26th, 1944 Enrico Fermi had a meeting with Wigner and he stated that the development of Thorium cycle power reactors would solve the energy problems of the nations that choose to develop them.

In 2008, India went live with their first of seven Thorium power reactors for testing. India has the largest Thorium reserves in the world. Enough to power thousands of power reactors. China and the United States also have large reserves.  The complete chart of where the very high known quality reserves are is located below.

The first  of seven Thorium power reactors doesn’t produce much energy but provides the opportunity to determine the reference core configuration necessary to get it working. It also gives them the ability to measure the critical height for various types of cores. The reference core configuration has to do with the layout of the nuclear core.

The team is performing experiments with Thorium oxide and Uranium mix and Thorium-Uranium Plutonium oxide configurations.  This modern first of seven power reactors is testing platform. It is a precursor to bringing on their full-scale power reactors next year.

Using the first of seven  power reactors they have been able to perform nuclear flux measurements inside the central lattice of Uranium and Thorium clusters.  Flux is the flow of neutrons which triggers fission of atoms which is necessary to produce energy. They are also able to perform coolant experiments and measurements.

This first test power reactor was a precursor the 500MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Power Reactor that has completed the design phase and is under construction. Estimates say that the 500MWe should be online sometime next year.

This will be the first full scale of the Thorium power reactors to come online anywhere in the world.  Distinguished scientist Dr. P.R. Vasudeva Rao has taken over as Director at IGCAR (Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research) which was established in 1971 by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.

Thorium power reactors are an effective utilization of Uranium resources, which are in short supply in India. Giving it 70 times more energy extraction capability than the LWR’s (Light Water Power Reactors) used in conventional nuclear power plants.

It has the advantage of consuming the high-level radioactive waste of conventional power reactors.  That includes the long-lived minor actinides.  The minor actinides elements found in spent nuclear fuel other than Uranium and Plutonium which are called major actinides. The minor actinides include neptunium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, and fermium.  The most important isotopes in spent nuclear fuel are neptunium-237, americium-241, americium-243, curium-242 through -248, and californium-249 through -252. The Thorium power reactors take the spent nuclear fuel from conventional nuclear power reactors and uses it to keep Thorium “burning”. Without the small quantity of spent fuel, a sustained reaction can’t occur which is what makes it so safe.

The Thorium powered fission cycle will allow India to produce energy using a huge reserve without the need to mine huge quantities of the earth which are necessary for standard Uranium power reactors.

It reduces the environmental impacts by a factor of 50 or more when compared with conventional nuclear power reactors.

Waste is reduced by a factor of 30 over conventional nuclear power reactors!

When we say “reduced by a factor of 50” or “factor of 30”, the word “factor” means that we are dividing the environmental impacts by 50 or dividing the waste by 30.

The 500MWe prototype fast breeder power reactor was designed to demonstrate the economics and technological aspects of commercialization. It is now in the advanced stage of development. It is located in Kalpakkam. They plan on constructing six more power reactors soon after for actual commercialization.

A ton of coal produces 2000 kilowatt hours of electricity. One ton of Thorium is equivalent to 3,500,000 tons of coal. The chart below shows the quantity of Thorium available in major deposits and the Tons of coal equivalency. In the United States, we use 8,008,000,000 tons of coal each year as of 2012. A simple calculation shows that the US has major deposit reserves that will fulfill the 42% of US economy provided by coal for 2268.36 years! That’s Thorium abundant deposits available for all practical purposes by “Four men and a couple pairs of shovels.”

Country

Reasonable Assured Reserves of Thorium

Tons of Coal Equivalent

India

519,000

1,816,500,000,000

Australia

489,000

1,711,500,000,000

USA

400,000

1,400,000,000,000

Turkey

344,000

1,204,000,000,000

Venezuela

302,000

1,057,000,000,000

Brazil

302,000

1,057,000,000,000

Norway

132,000

462,000,000,000

Egypt

100,000

350,000,000,000

Russia

75,000

262,500,000,000

Greenland

54,000

262,500,000,000

Canada

44,000

262,500,000,000

“Other countries”

33,000

115,500,000,000

South Africa

18,000

63,000,000,000

 

There is also a huge less quality reserve which would be more on par with mining of coal to extract.  In the earth’s crust in total, there is an estimated 120 trillion tons of thorium at intermediate quantities.

 

Let’s hope the US and other countries with major deposits wake up and follow India’s suit and build hundreds of Thorium power reactors!

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