ENERGY: India is leading the world in Thorium fuel cycle development

LessThunk comment: The long-term goal of India’s nuclear program has been to develop an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle The first stage of this employs the PHWRs fuelled by natural uranium, and light water reactors, which produce plutonium incidentally to their prime purpose of electricity generation. The Kamini, Kalpakkam mini, reactor is exploring the use of thorium as nuclear fuel, by breeding fissile U-233. It is the only reactor in the world running on U-233 fuel, according to their DAE.




A Compact High-Temperature Reactor (CHTR) of 100 kWt is being designed to have long (15-year) core life and employ liquid metal (Pb-Bi eutectic) coolant. It uses TRISO fuel in tubes and blocks and is designed to operate at 1000°C for long periods giving high burn-up. It has a ceramic core with BeO and graphite moderator. It has several passive systems for heat removal. It is envisaged as a nuclear battery in remote areas with no grid.

The Innovative HTR (IHTR) of 600 MWt is envisaged for hydrogen production. It also uses TRISO fuel, with 7.3% U-233 at 1000°C, but in some 150,000 pebbles, hence online refuelling. It has active and passive systems for control and cooling. The molten salt coolant circulates by convection during normal operation. It is expected to produce 18 MWe and 80,000 m3/hr of hydrogen.

Also in the HTR area is conceptual design of an Indian Molten Salt Breeder Reactor (MSBR) of 1000 MWe which has potential to be used in stage 3 of the thorium program. It would have a breeding ratio of 1.06 to 1.14 while operating in thermal or epithermal spectrum. The fissile inventory in a 1000 MWe reactor would be about 1 tonne, compared with 6 tonnes for metal-fuelled FBR, assuming online reprocessing. It has emphasis on passive systems for reactor heat removal under all scenarios and conditions.

With about ten active uranium mines, 15% of the worlds Thorium and an average of two new reactors planned to be coming on-line every year for the next 10-15 years. India, with the support of mainly Russian technologists, is fast becoming a “global powerhouse” of nuclear expertise

(also on LessThunk: Thorium )




Categorised as: energy

Posted by: Phaedrus

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