India's Thorium based nuclear power programme

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/02/india-major-fast-breeder-program.html

    February 14, 2009
    India Major Fast Breeder Program Kicking Into Higher Gear: Two Breeder Will Start Construction

    Scientists and engineers at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) are hoping to save around Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore or $104 million) by modifying the design of four fast reactors nuclear power plants. With the experience gained from prototype that is being completed, the new projects can be completed in five years as against seven years. Two new fast breeders reactor will start construction shortly. The government has sanctioned construction of four more 500 MW fast reactors of which two will be housed inside the existing nuclear island at Kalpakkam and expected to be ready by 2020. Decision on locating the remaining two fast reactors is yet to be taken. The proposed reactors will also be powered by mixed oxide fuel - a blend of plutonium and uranium oxides - like the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) in the same complex.

    Similarly, construction of the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility is expected to start soon.

    With the Rs.35-billion prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) project progressing at good pace at Kalpakkam, 80 km from here, the Indian government has sanctioned building of four more 500 MW fast reactors.

    A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes, so that the reaction - that ultimately produces electricity - can continue.

    The Indian fast reactors will be fueled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide.

    While the reactor will use fission plutonium for power production, it will also breed more plutonium than what it uses from the natural uranium.

    The surplus plutonium from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India's needs.

    These reactors are also called fast spectrum reactors since the neutrons coming from the fission will not be moderated. Two of the proposed reactors will come up in Kalpakkam, the site for which has been approved, while the location for the remaining two are yet to be finalized.

    According to Raj, the four reactors will be designed to last 60 years - an increase of 20 years over PFBR's current life span.

    "The blueprint for the four oxide fuel fast reactors is ready. The roadmap for research and development will be ready next month," reactor engineering group director S.C. Chetal told IANS.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    'India's 1st FBR this year'

    http://www.zeenews.com/sci-tech/miscellaneous/2009-02-06/505299news.html

    'India's 1st FBR this year'


    Jalandhar, Feb 06: India would develop the first fast breeder reactor this year, making it the only nation in Asia to develop such a technology
    .

    Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) on Friday said after over two decades of work, the country's second generation nuclear reactor that would breed more fuel than it consumes will be ready by the end of this year.

    Work on the second generation 500-MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) is expected to be completed by the end of this year, Head of Material Science Division of IGCAR C S Sundar told reporters while participating in the National Conference on "Nanomaterials Syntheses and Applications" here.

    He said it would be a major achievement for the country as no other nation in Asia has developed the technology so far.

    A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes, so that the reaction that ultimately produces electricity can continue, he explained.

    If all goes well, the Rs 35-billion project promoted by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini) will become the crowning glory for the IGCAR that already houses four nuclear power reactors, he added.
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Fast-breeder reactors more important for India

    http://www.igcar.ernet.in/press_releases/press11.htm

    Fast-breeder reactors more important for India
    (old but good interview)

    Embargoes have only increased India's self-reliance in the nuclear field, says Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy. In a recent interview to The Hindu in Mumbai , Dr. Kakodkar spoke of the importance of fast-breeder reactors in meeting the country's energy needs. Excerpts:

    Question: What are the achievements and failures of the Department of Atomic Energy in the last 50 years?

    Dr. Kakodkar: We have a large, capable human resource pool of scientists and technologists. This, I think, is a very important achievement. The second important achievement is that our programme, on the basis of self-reliance, has demonstrated that we can take our R&D efforts, carried out in our laboratories, to commercial scale of excellence in the marketplace.

    The third achievement is that the first stage of India's nuclear power programme, presently consisting of 12 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), is completely in the industrial domain. It will grow on its own steam. Lastly, as a result of the consolidation of the entire work done in the last 50 years, we now have a clearly defined roadmap for future R&D and its commercialisation.

    In terms of failures — I will not call them failures — but we did see several challenges. For example, embargoes have been a major challenge. Embargoes have not deterred us from making progress and, in fact, they have made our self-reliance that much more robust. Obviously, the dimensions of our programme would have been bigger if we had been able to do things at a much faster pace.

    Without the embargoes?

    Yes, without the embargoes. On the whole, I will say that we have now succeeded in this very frontline technology in all its dimensions. We have different technologies for various applications.

    Can you give examples?

    Nuclear energy applications in agriculture, health, food security and so on. While we have done this, we have also contributed towards nuclear weapons ability in the country. India today is a country with nuclear weapons to ensure its long-term security. At the same time, we have domestic capability to guarantee long-term energy security in a manner that will help in preserving the environment and avoiding the adverse impact of climate change.

    How important are the fast-breeder reactors in ensuring India's energy security?

    Fast-breeder reactors are more important to India than to other countries which have capabilities in nuclear power technology. This is because of the nuclear resource profile we have in the country. Our uranium reserves — what we have — as per the present state of exploration will be able to support 10,000 MWe generating capacity, which is not large. But it is the starting point for setting up fast reactors. When the same uranium, which will support 10,000 MWe generating capacity in the PHWRs, comes out as spent fuel and we process that spent fuel into plutonium and residual uranium, and use it in the fast reactors, we will be able to go to electricity capacity which will be as large 5,00,000 MWe. This is due to the breeding potential of the fast reactors, using the plutonium-uranium cycle. That is the importance of the fast-breeder reactors under Indian conditions, compared to other countries.

    France, the U.S. and the U.K. have not persisted with their breeder reactors programme. Are we entering an area others have backed out from?

    That is not true. There is a programme called Generation Four Initiative Forum, GIF for short. This is a programme led by the United States in which ten other countries are participating. They have nuclear power reactor configurations that are important for the future. They have identified a total of six configurations, six reactors. Out of that, three or four are fast reactors. So the importance of fast reactors in future energy requirements is recognised well worldwide. In fact, in Russia, an 800 MWe fast reactor is under construction. The ground reality now is that uranium is available at a much cheaper price internationally. In this situation of plenty of uranium availability, there is no urgency for these countries to move on to fast-breeder reactor technology. This, however, is not the case with us.

    How many breeder reactors will we build in the near future?

    We are making a beginning with the first 500 MWe and we will complete it by 2010. After that, we will build more similar units. We have planned four in the programme up to 2020. The development of the fast-breeder technology will go on at the IGCAR. In this development, we will proceed in two directions.

    One direction is to go for higher capacity reactors, may be developing 1,000 MWe reactors. The other direction is to use the reactor design and its associated fuel cycle, which will have a shorter doubling time because we get into a higher and higher generating capacity through the breeding process. The faster the breeding, quicker will be the rise in the fast-breeder reactor's capacity. So we should pursue both the directions: one is the higher reactor unit size, and the other, the fuel cycle, which has a shorter doubling time. In this, we have drawn the entire road map including R&D activities, the development that should be done and, the new energy systems to be built.

    The 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), which will use thorium as fuel, is your pet project. Why the delay in its construction, which was to begin before the end of last April?

    The fast-breeder reactors constitute the second stage of our programme. While we have scarcity in terms of uranium, our thorium resources are abundant. [The third stage of the programme using] thorium-uranium 233 fuel can run in a sustained mode for a long time. So we have made this as our third stage after we have sufficient capacity through breeder reactors. For if you irradiate thorium at a higher capacity level, then you will have a very long programme at a higher capacity level. We are also working on development [of reactors] that will allow growth with the thorium fuel cycle. Besides, we have programmes on other applications of thorium, such as the high temperature energy generation. All this constitutes the third stage of our nuclear power programme, that is, demonstrating large-scale electricity generation using thorium. We are very happy with the support promised by the Prime Minister.

    The AHWR will be one of the first elements in the third stage. Its design is complete. We have prepared the project report. We have completed a peer review by knowledgeable people other than those who designed it. A fairly large amount of R&D work has been completed. There is more R&D work to be done. It is true that we should have started the AHWR construction this year. But we felt that since the reactor will be ultimately implemented in the public domain, it is important that its design is also reviewed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (which keeps a tab on safety in nuclear power facilities in the country). So we have now created an arrangement wherein for such developments [reactors], which will ultimately go out of the BARC for use by the society or industry, safety aspects should be entrusted with the AERB. We are in the process of making that arrangement now.

    The Prime Minister has asserted that India would not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies and also spoken about the developments in the neighbourhood. Do you see a toughening of India's stance on proliferation issues?

    If you look at India's track record, it has always behaved in a very responsible fashion. At the same time, we carry out our indigenous efforts in a self-reliant manner for developing technologies and their implementation in the national interest. This is of course a legitimate right. India is one sixth of humanity. One sees that when such barriers are imposed, they put some kind of resistance to the pace at which we can grow.

    Then one has to question the justification for such a process. It is our policy to act in a manner that this nuclear technology is managed in a responsible way. We have come to this level, based on our own self-reliant effort. On the other side, [in] a regime which they have put in place, clandestine activities still go on. What we are talking about is a regime which facilitates development, addresses the development of a large country like India. What he [the Prime Minister] said was rather than arresting proliferation by irresponsible people, today's framework seems to be creating barriers for our development. We want a system which addresses the true proliferation concerns and still solves the problems we face in our development. For we are talking of a large fraction of humanity.

    Will the dialogue with the U.S., Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, be of any use to India for developing our nuclear power technology?

    I don't think so.
     
  5. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India surging ahead in FBR technology

    http://www.igcar.ernet.in/press_releases/press19.htm

    India surging ahead in FBR technology

    French nuclear scientist says India could be acclaimed as a world champion in a decade
    # DAE cautioned to move forward with circumspection
    # India turned lack of external assistance to its advantage




    CHENNAI: The "Hanuman jump" that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) undertook in stepping up from the 13 MWe Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) to the 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) which is under construction at Kalpakkam, near Chennai, "is a bold one," Georges Vendryes, honorary executive vice-president, French Atomic Energy Commission, has said.

    Dr. Vendryes, who was the guest of honour at a function to celebrate 20 years of successful operation of the FBTR, said he had no doubt about India's capability in taking up this "daring challenge," considering the experience of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research in

    building and operating the FBTR. But the 86-year-old Dr. Vendryes, who is the father of fast breeder reactors (FBRs) in the world, cautioned the DAE to move forward with utmost circumspection, to take no risks, "not to be in a hurry," and "not to try to beat Olympic records" in this mega jump. "If everything goes well, you will be acclaimed as a world champion in FBRs in a decade or so," he said.

    Isolation

    India's nuclear industry was subject to isolation. Its efforts to become self-reliant in nuclear power technology became "overwhelming after many countries put a full stop after 1974" in their cooperation with India, the French nuclear scientist said. With its own efforts, India turned the lack of external assistance to its advantage. Dr. Vendryes said he was happy to note that after the recent visits of U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac to India, "the present unwanted situation will soon terminate."

    (The FBTR at Kalpakkam reached criticality in October 1985. It was modelled after the French reactor Rapsodie. It was initially built with French collaboration but France stopped its help after India conducted its nuclear tests at Pokhran in 1974. The FBTR uses mixed uranium-plutonium carbide fuel. The PFBR will use mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel).

    Remarkable feat

    The India-French collaboration in building the FBTR was interrupted in the mid-1970s, and the supply of highly enriched uranium fuel stopped. But the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre boldly decided to go for mixed uranium-plutonium carbide fuel for the FBTR and achieved "a remarkable feat" in fabricating it without outside help, Dr. Vendryes said.

    "India will soon find a new place in the mainstream of international nuclear community in sustainable development of energy and non-proliferation" regime, he added.

    Meeting power needs

    Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India's collaboration with France would enhance in the coming years and lead to strengthening of the FBR programme internationally. Mr. Mukherjee said the FBRs were destined to supply a large amount of electricity to India. Plutonium extracted by reprocessing irradiated Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) fuel would, in turn, be able to generate more than 50,000 MWe through FBRs and associated closed fuel cycle.

    Mr. Mukherjee praised the IGCAR in successfully operating the FBTR for 20 years, with availability factor of more than 90 per cent in successive campaigns.

    Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, said India was among the few countries, which have mastered the complex technology of FBRs, which involved the twin challenges — liquid sodium and plutonium. The IGCAR had also mastered the technology of reprocessing highly irradiated mixed carbide fuel for the first time in the world.

    Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commision, said the FBR technology held the key to India's energy independence. The challenges ahead of the DAE included multiplication of FBRs with those of larger capacity; development of FBRs that would use metallic fuel; building thorium-based reactors by irradiating thorium in fast reactors; and building accelerator driven systems.

    "The IGCAR has thus a great challenge and future as a major R and D centre in which the FBTR would remain the workhorse," he said.

    World leader

    Baldev Raj, Director, IGCAR, who welcomed the gathering, paid tributes to former Directors of the IGCAR in building the FBR technology in India.

    He said he was confident that India would emerge as a world leader in this technology by 2020, if not earlier. P.V. Ramalingam, Director, Reactor Operation and Maintenance Group, IGCAR, recalled the contribution of late Raja Ramanna and other pioneers of the DAE in building the FBR programme.
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research [IGCAR ] Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/india/kalpakkam.htm

    Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research [IGCAR ]
    Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant [KARP]




    Kalpakkam is situated about 80 km south of Chennai. It takes about 3 hours to reach Kalpakkam by State Transport Bus and about 2 hours by Taxi. Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research [IGCAR], the second largest establishment of the Department of Atomic Energy next to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, has a staff strength of 2290 including 930 Engineers and Scientists. IGCAR was established in 1971 with the main objective of conducting broad based multidisciplinary programme of scientific research and advanced Engineering, directed towards the development of Fast Breeder Reactor [FBR] technology.

    The Madras Atomic Power Station [MAPS] in Kalpakkam, near Chennai (Tamil Nadu), is a comprehensive nuclear power production, fuel reprocessing, and waste treatment facility that includes plutonium fuel fabrication for Fast Breeder Reactors [FBRs]. Two pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) at Kalpakkam started commercial operation in 1984 and 1986. They were designed, built and operated with indigenous expertise, establishing Indian capabilities in design, construction, and operation of nuclear power plants. Construction of the Waste Immobilization Plant (WIP) in Kalpakkam started in 1983 with commissioning in 1993. An Interim Storage Facility [ISF] is also located in Kalpakkam.

    The Indira Gandhi Centre has established a comprehensive R&D infrastructure over the entire range of FBR technology spanning reactor engineering, metallurgy and materials, chemistry of fuels and materials, fuel reprocessing and reactor safety studies, control and instrumentation, computer applications, and has developed a strong base in a wide variety of disciplines related to this advanced technology. IGCAR successfully built the 40 megawatt(th) sodium cooled Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) which uses indigenously developed mixed uranium-plutonium carbide fuel core. FBTR was synchronised to the southern grid, in July 1997.

    Based on the experience in the design, construction, commissioning and operation of FBTR the Department has undertaken the development of a 500 megawatt(e) Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam. The technology development for all major components for this reactor is in an advanced stage and the construction is expected to start in the next few years.

    In September 2002, in a bid to provide long-term energy security as well as to utilise resources available to the fullest, it was announced that construction of India's first 500 MW prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) would commence shortly. This reactor would prove to be an important link in India's three stage nuclear power programme and would ensure that the vagaries of the world fuel supply market do not affect the country. The utilisation of natural uranium in FBRs increases to over 75 per cent as compared to 0.6 per cent in nuclear reactors based on Pressurised Heavy-Water Reactor technology. With the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FTBR) already running at Kalpakkam since 1985, India has valuable experience to ensure the smooth functioning of FBR. It would take seven years to construct the prototype FBR. The Department of Atomic Energy has proposed not only to build four more FBRs of similar capacity by the year 2020 but also to undertake designing and development of FBRs with the capacity of 1000 MW.

    Plutonium for nuclear weapons, which is also the fuel for the second stage reactors of the Indian nuclear power program, is obtained from spent uranium fuel of Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). Fuel reprocessing aims at recovering the reusable fissile and fertile component of the spent fuel. Fuel reprocessing started in India at a time when it was regarded as an exclusively nuclear weapon related activity. Understandably, no collaboration was forthcoming in this field and so India had to develop this technology entirely by indigenous efforts. In India today there are three reprocessing plants to extract Plutonium from spent fuel, one at Trombay, the second at Tarapur and recently the third one was cold commissioned at Kalpakkam.

    The Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant [KARP] facility, with a capacity 100 tonne per annum, with several novel features and concepts, was successfully commissioned at Kalpakkam in 1998. The plant at Kalpakkam incorporates a number of innovative features such as hybrid maintenance concept in hot cells using servo-manipulators and engineered provisions for extending the life of the plant. This plant will cater to the needs of reprocessing fuels from MAPS as well as FBTR.

    The Fuel Reprocessing Plant Kalpakkam reprocesses spent fuel from the Kalpakkam reactors and from the 15-MWe FBTR commissioned 1985. It uses the PUREX process, with a separate line for FBTR mixed-carbide fuels. The capacity was originally 0.5 tHM/d for PHWR fuels. A plant for reprocessing of fast reactor fuel (FRFRP) is under construction at Kalpakkam. The Kalpakkam facility will separate even larger quantities of plutonium than the similar Tarapur facility, both of which can supply plutonium to India's nuclear weapons program.

    The tritium extraction plant is the facility at at Kalpakkam most directly related to the nuclear weapons program. It could provide tritium to build a large arsenal of boosted fission or thermonuclear weapons.

    It is reported that indigenously enriched uranium was used in the two low-yield weapons tested in 1998, leading to speculation that the material may have been obtained Rare Materials Plant in Mysore, site of BARC’s uranium enrichment plant, or possibly from the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) project at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam. However, most of the fissile material used in the tests probably came from BARC in Trombay.

    The reprocessing plant at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) Facility, Kalpakkam, was temporarily closed down following high levels radiation exposure suffered by three staff members on 21 June 2003. Workers at the plant went on a flash strike forcing the facts into public domain * two engineers and a worker had already suffered excessive exposure to radiation. The exposure incident reportedly occurred on 21 January 2003.
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India’s HANUMAN leap to NUCLEAR NIRVANA

    http://www.dc-epaper.com/dc/dcc/2008/08/25/ArticleHtmls/25_08_2008_009_010.shtml

    India’s HANUMAN leap to NUCLEAR NIRVANA



    INDIA IS set to take a giant step — a “Hanuman jump” as Dr Baldev Raj, director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, described it — in its nuclear power programme, regardless of whether its nuclear deal with the US is realised or not.

    A 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is under construction at the Kalpakkam. It will be commissioned in September 2010. India will then build a series of at least four FBRs by 2020.

    Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who was asked by Jawaharlal Nehru to start the nuclear programme even before Independence in 1947, set the roadmap for the programme in the 1950s.

    Bhabha studied the resources he had. Not much was available — there were no dedicated institutions for nuclear science, there were not enough scientists, engineers and workmen trained in nuclear physics and the building of nuclear reactors, and the country did not have enough uranium reserves that would be required for the heavy and light water reactors that the technology of the day could build.

    Bhabha could solve the first problem — of building dedicated institutions — because of his close relationship with Nehru. Bhabha asked, and got, a separate department and a commission for the development of the nuclear programme, which would be under the Prime Minister’s charge.

    He could solve the second problem — of lack of scientific manpower and experience in building nuclear reactors — partly by bringing in foreign collaboration and partly by recruiting the brightest men of science he could find in the country. He sought out the likes of Meghnad Saha, Vikram Sarabhai, Raja Ramanna and many others.

    But the third problem — lack of uranium reserves — required quite an ingenous solution. It took Bhabha and his scientists until 1959 to come up with a roadmap that would work in India’s unique situation. India does not have large uranium reserves, but has abundant thorium. So, for the nuclear power programme to achieve a significant scale, a plan had to be devised by which India could start off using natural uranium oxide and gradually move over to build and run thorium-based reactors. Nuclear physics allows that, but it can be achieved only by going through a three-stage programme, each of which would have to run for a few decades before the next one could kick in.

    Here is what Bhabha’s three-stage programme to achieve nuclear energy selfsufficiency envisioned: In the first stage, utilising the reactor technology and foreign assistance available at the time, India would build a series of pressurised water reactors that would run on natural uranium oxide. These reactors would take in uranium and give out plutonium. Over a few decades, enough plutonium would accumulate to be able to move to the next stage — Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR). India built a 13.2 MWe test FBR in 1985 and has been operating it since then. The 500 MWe FBR being built at Kalpakkam requires two tons of plutonium and seven-eight tons of natural uranium oxide at each fuelling. Thorium Oxide is fed in the periphery of the reactor.

    The FBR returns more plutonium than it consumes — but estimates vary as to how much; some say it returns almost twice the amount of plutonium than it consumes. Thus, once the FBR becomes operational, there is no worry so far as fuelling it is concerned provided one has enough plutonium stocks for the initial fuelling of a reactor. Meanwhile, the Thorium Oxide is irradiated into uranium-233, which is required for the thorium reactors of the third stage.

    Given the plutonium breeding in the FBR and the abundant thorium reserves, India can achieve nuclear nirvana once it enters the second and third stages of the three-stage plan.

    India is the only country building an FBR in the 21st century. Although FBRs and thorium reactors were the dream of a number of nuclear nations, the easy availability of uranium weaned them away from taking the risks of the very complex technologies and requirements of these advanced reactors. But India’s uranium situation, complicated by the refusal of the Nuclear Suppliers Group led by the US to sell uranium and nuclear technologies to India following the 1974 nuclear test, spurred the country to take those risks in view of the large benefits they promise.

    There are many who question the ability of Indian scientists and the nuclear establishment to realise the dream of nuclear energy self-sufficiency.

    Especially given the fantastic promise of a perpetual nuclear reactor programme that is held out by the FBR and thorium reactors, detractors of the programme tend to dismiss it as a foolish dream.

    Indian scientists, however, say all that has happened until now is preparation to enter the next stage.

    “We are the world leader in many areas of FBR technology — high temperature design, the world’s best sensors, reactor-grade materials such as high-grade steel, high-efficiency metallic and non-metallic fuels, the robotics to handle it all, etc,” said Dr Baldev Raj at his recent Prof. Brahm Prakash Memorial Lecture at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru.

    “We have studied the reasons why other FBR projects failed and we have ironed out issues. France, for instance, drew on our hydrogen sensors when it went looking for the world’s most powerful sensors for its Phoenix reactor. We are confident that the PFBR will be safe and will work efficiently,” Dr Raj said.
     
  8. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    So when is the PTFBR going critical?...Anyone who has any idea about that?
     
  9. shiv

    shiv Regular Member

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    we discovered a huge reserve of uranium in ladakh dint we??

    what happened to that??

    or did we just did the deal with the americans with some other ideas in mind?
     
  10. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    tribals prevented mining operations, and the burecrats did not pursue it.
     
  11. shiv

    shiv Regular Member

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    what tribals???
    its a virtual desert......

    and it is slated to be the 4th largest reserve of uranium in the world....we can export this shit!!!
     
  12. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    I don't blame them... It is a sensitive area.... Any slightest sign of trouble and you'd have the Chinese trying to interfere in the area given the racial profile of the Ladakh region....
     
  13. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    confused with another state, but the government never pursued it, either way the government has mines now in kazakastan and Canada so uranium is being imported and we are saving our own as reserve.
     
  14. shiv

    shiv Regular Member

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    gokul man,almost our whole north east is of that racial profile......can we let china decide weather to put a statue of gandhi in sikkim or not????

    this is our internal matter...our own resource...our own uranium...what the hell do they have agaist it??
     
  15. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    I understand your feelings, but it is better that we proceed with caution on such issues. As you already know, China isn't our best friend in the neighbourhood and has been stoking insurgencies in the region.

    As time goes on, the tribals will possibly open to the idea of letting us mine in the area and I'm sure that negotiations are on behind the scenes to let us do the mining and get the yellow cakes out of that place. Plus, I'm sure that it is being actively pushed as employment and business opportunities for the locals.

    But, you have to understand that the tribals are a very sensitive people. You have to negotiate with them slowly and not push them too hard. Take them along with you as you go along, else if they feel neglected, you're giving the Chinese a foothold in the area. A disgruntled tribal can very easily be "used" by the Chinese as a weapon against us. Either by stoking insurgencies, or by using him as a spy, or even maybe getting him to smuggle samples out to them.

    And, think of the media mileage a tribal insurgency would give to him?? He would immediately get up and say that the tribals, Ladakhis and NE people are being exploited all along by India and this is an "expression of their resentment" and things like that...

    So, its better to tread with caution in such areas and take the local population along rather than try to force your views on them which might end up to be counterproductive for you in the long term.

    And, in this particular case, where's the problem?? Your immediate needs of uranium are being met. So, no need to hurry up this mining issue and make a pig's breakfast of it all...
     
  16. shiv

    shiv Regular Member

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    hey gokul i think you are confusing ladakh with a north east state....

    ladakh is next to j&k,has a very very low population,no insurgency and is a cold desert....

    you have to have people for a cause...there is no problems in ladakh and as far as i can say no people either
     
  17. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    India - Thorium Reactor

    India's Homegrown Thorium Reactor

    Pallava Bagla
    KALPAKKAM, INDIA--For more than 5 decades, India has followed its own path on nuclear power. After refusing to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and detonating a nuclear device in 1974, it was excluded from the international group that shares fission technology. In isolation, it launched an ambitious nuclear electric program that relies heavily on homegrown technology.

    What makes India's strategy unique is its plan to build commercial reactors that run not on uranium but on a lighter element, thorium-232. India has one of the world's largest reserves of thorium--about 225,000 metric tons--but little uranium ore. Thorium does not fission; when irradiated with neutrons from a source material such as uranium-235, however, some of the thorium becomes uranium-233 (U-233), which does fission and can sustain a nuclear reaction.

    [​IMG]
    First of a kind. Project director Prabhat Kumar at the site of a new thorium-uranium reactor in Kalpakkam.
    CREDIT: PALLAVA BAGLA

    In 1958, India announced that it was embarking on an ambitious, three-stage plan to exploit its thorium reserves. The first stage required building pressurized heavy-water reactors powered by natural uranium; they yield plutonium as a byproduct. Twelve are now operational. The plan called for stage two to kick in after sufficient plutonium had been extracted from spent cores; it would be used as a fuel in future fast-neutron reactors, which can irradiate thorium and produce U-233 as a byproduct. In the third stage, Advanced Heavy Water Reactors will burn a mixture of U-233 and thorium, generating about two-thirds of their power from thorium. Other nations--including the United States, Russia, Germany, and Israel--have studied the route but have not attempted to use it to generate electricity.
    Stage two of this grand strategy began officially last October. In the sleepy southern township of Kalpakkam, a government-owned company began building a 500-megawatts-of-electricity (MWe) fast-breeder reactor that will use fast neutrons to produce U-233. In its core, the reactor will use a "seed" fuel containing uranium and plutonium oxide; this source will send neutrons into a surrounding thorium blanket.

    Indian atomic energy officials are confident that this exotic fuel system can be scaled up from a smaller, 40-megawatt Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) that has been running in Kalpakkam without major problems since 1985. This reactor and other research projects at the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research in Kalpakkam have demonstrated, IGCAR officials say, that India has mastered the new technology. In a "bold step forward," says Anil Kakodkar, chair of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Mumbai, researchers at IGCAR in May of this year successfully extracted plutonium in high purity from the unique plutonium-rich mixed carbide fuel discharged from FBTR.

    [​IMG]
    Proof of principle. Researchers at Kalpakkam used thorium fuels in a 40-megawatt test reactor.
    CREDIT: PALLAVA BAGLA

    AEC anticipates that the fast breeder at Kalpakkam will cost about $700 million and produce 500 MWe. The long-term goal, according to Kakodkar, is to increase nuclear electric output from 3360 MW today to "around 275 gigawatts" by the middle of this century.
    Construction at Kalpakkam ran into trouble early this year: The 26 December 2004 tsunami flooded the foundations of the reactor building and set the schedule back by 4 months, says Baldev Raj, IGCAR's director. But he says that the work is now on track and predicts that the reactor will go critical as planned in September 2010.

    Mujid Kazimi, a nuclear engineer who studies thorium fuels at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, says India's approach to breeding nuclear fuel from thorium is "slightly more complicated" than fuel breeding planned elsewhere in the world. But he adds, "everything they have reported to date indicates they are on track."

    India cannot go it entirely alone, however. It still requires uranium, including for two boiling water reactors it bought from General Electric in the 1960s, and that may be one reason it is interested in opening nuclear trade with other countries. At a meeting last month with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President George W. Bush called India "a responsible state" with "advanced nuclear technology." The opening could lead to future exchanges of personnel and technology--and possibly fuel. Singh reassured Parliament, however, that the deal would not undermine India's nuclear self-sufficiency.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5738/1174
     
  18. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Information on Thorium

    Thorium

    (Updated February 2009)

    Thorium is much more abundant in nature than uranium.
    Thorium can also be used as a nuclear fuel through breeding to uranium-233.

    Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Soil commonly contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium.

    Thorium-232 (Th-232) decays very slowly (its half-life is about three times the age of the Earth) but other thorium isotopes occur in its and in uranium's decay chains. Most of these are short-lived and hence much more radioactive than Th-232, though on a mass basis they are negligible.

    When pure, thorium is a silvery white metal that retains its lustre for several months. However, when it is contaminated with the oxide, thorium slowly tarnishes in air, becoming grey and eventually black. Thorium oxide (ThO2), also called thoria, has one of the highest melting points of all oxides (3300°C). When heated in air, thorium metal turnings ignite and burn brilliantly with a white light. Because of these properties, thorium has found applications in light bulb elements, lantern mantles, arc-light lamps, welding electrodes and heat-resistant ceramics. Glass containing thorium oxide has a high refractive index and dispersion and is used in high quality lenses for cameras and scientific instruments.

    The most common source of thorium is the rare earth phosphate mineral, monazite, which contains up to about 12% thorium phosphate, but 6-7% on average. Monazite is found in igneous and other rocks but the richest concentrations are in placer deposits, concentrated by wave and current action with other heavy minerals. World monazite resources are estimated to be about 12 million tonnes, two thirds of which are in heavy mineral sands deposits on the south and east coasts of India. There are substantial deposits in several other countries (see table below). Thorite (ThSiO4) is another common mineral. A large vein deposit of thorium and rare earth metals is in Idaho.

    The 2007 IAEA-NEA publication Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand (often referred to as the 'Red Book') gives a figure of 4.4 million tonnes of total known and estimated resources, but this excludes data from much of the world. Data for reasonably assured and inferred resources recoverable at a cost of $80/kg Th or less are given in the table below. Some of the figures are based on assumptions and surrogate data for mineral sands, not direct geological data in the same way as most mineral resources.

    [​IMG]

    Thorium as a nuclear fuel

    Thorium, as well as uranium, can be used as a nuclear fuel. Although not fissile itself, Th-232 will absorb slow neutrons to produce uranium-233 (U-233)a, which is fissile (and long-lived). The irradiated fuel can then be unloaded from the reactor, the U-233 separated from the thorium, and fed back into another reactor as part of a closed fuel cycle.

    In one significant respect U-233 is better than uranium-235 and plutonium-239, because of its higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. Given a start with some other fissile material (U-233, U-235 or Pu-239) as a driver, a breeding cycle similar to but more efficient than that with U-238 and plutonium (in normal, slow neutron reactors) can be set up. (The driver fuels provide all the neutrons initially, but are progressively supplemented by U-233 as it forms from the thorium.) However, there are also features of the neutron economy which counter this advantage. In particular the intermediate product protactinium-233 (Pa-233)a is a neutron absorber which diminishes U-233 yield.

    Over the last 30 years there has been interest in utilising thorium as a nuclear fuel since it is more abundant in the Earth's crust than uranium. Also, all of the mined thorium is potentially useable in a reactor, compared with the 0.7% of natural uranium, so some 40 times the amount of energy per unit mass might theoretically be available (without recourse to fast neutron reactors). But this relative advantage vanishes if fast neutron reactors are used for uranium.

    The Light Water Breeder Reactor (LWBR) concept is a major potential application for conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs) and has been successfully demonstrated at the Shippingport reactor in the USA2,3. Shippingport commenced commercial operation in December 1957 as the first large-scale nuclear power reactor to be operated solely for electricity production. In 1965 the Atomic Energy Commission began designing a uranium-233/thorium core for the reactor and in 1976, the Energy Research and Development Administration (now the Department of Energy) established the Advanced Water Breeder Applications programme to evaluate the LWBR concept for commercial-scale applications. Shippingport operated as an LWBR between August 1977 and October 1982, when the station was finally shut down. During this period, the demonstration LWBR operated for over 29,000 effective full power hours with an availability factor of 76% and had a gross electrical output of over 2.1 billion kilowatt hours. Following operation, inspection of the core found that 1.39% more fissile fuel was present at the end of core life than at the beginning, proving that breeding had occurred.

    The core of the Shippingport demonstration LWBR consisted of an array of seed and blanket modules surrounded by an outer reflector region. In the seed and blanket regions, the fuel pellets contained a mixture of thorium-232 oxide (ThO2) and uranium oxide (UO2) that was over 98% enriched in U-233. The proportion by weight of UO2 was around 5-6% in the seed region, and about 1.5-3% in the blanket region. The reflector region contained only thorium oxide at the beginning of the core life. U-233 was used because at the time it was believed that U-235 would not release enough neutrons per fission and Pu-239 would parasitically capture too many neutrons to allow breeding in a PWR.

    This work at Shippingport was developed by Alvin Radkowsky, who was the chief scientist of the United States Navy's nuclear propulsion programme from 1950 to 1972 and headed the team that built the Shippingport plant. The Radkowsky Thorium Reactor (RTR) addresses the aspects of the thorium fuel cycle that are considered sensitive from the point of view of weapons proliferation. In particular the RTR avoids the need to separate U-233.

    Radkowsky proposed the use of a heterogenous seed-blanket fuel assembly geometry, which separates the uranium (or plutonium) part of the fuel (the seed) from the thorium part of the fuel (the blanket). In the blanket part, U-233 is generated and fissioned, while the seed part supplies neutrons to the blanket. Either uranium enriched to 20% U-235 or plutonium can be used in the seed region4. One method of increasing the proliferation resistance of the design is to include some U-238 in the thorium blanket. Any uranium chemically separated from it (for the U-233 ) would not be useable for weapons. Spent blanket fuel would also contain U-232, which decays rapidly and has very gamma-active daughters creating significant problems in handling the bred U-233 and hence conferring proliferation resistance. Plutonium produced in the seed will have a high proportion of Pu-238, generating a lot of heat and making it even more unsuitable for weapons than normal reactor-grade plutonium. Radkowsky's designs are currently being developed by Thorium Powerb, based in McLean, Virginia.

    Since 1994, Thorium Power has been involved in a Russian programme to develop a thorium-uranium fuel, which more recently has moved to have a particular emphasis on utilisation of weapons-grade plutonium in a thorium-plutonium fuel. The program is based at Moscow's Kurchatov Institute and receives US government funding to design fuel for Russian VVER-1000 reactors. The design has a demountable centre portion and blanket arrangement, with the plutonium in the centre and the thorium (with uranium) around itc. The blanket material remains in the reactor for nine years but the centre portion is burned for only three years (as in a normal VVER). Design of the seed fuel rods in the centre portion draws on extensive experience of Russian navy reactors.

    The thorium-plutonium fuel claims four advantages over the use of mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel: increased proliferation resistance; compatibility with existing reactors - which will need minimal modification to be able to burn it; the fuel can be made in existing plants in Russia; and a lot more plutonium can be put into a single fuel assembly than with MOX fuel, so that three times as much can be disposed of as when using MOX. The spent fuel amounts to about half the volume of MOX and is even less likely to allow recovery of weapons-useable material than spent MOX fuel, since less fissile plutonium remains in it. With an estimated 150 tonnes of surplus weapons plutonium in Russia, the thorium-plutonium project would not necessarily cut across existing plans to make MOX fuel.

    R&D history

    The use of thorium-based fuel cycles has been studied for about 30 years, but on a much smaller scale than uranium or uranium/plutonium cycles. Basic research and development has been conducted in Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA. Test reactor irradiation of thorium fuel to high burnups has also been conducted and several test reactors have either been partially or completely loaded with thorium-based fuel.

    Noteworthy experiments involving thorium fuel include the following, the first three being high-temperature gas-cooled reactors:

    Between 1967 and 1988, the AVR (Atom Versuchs Reaktor) experimental pebble bed reactor at Jülich, Germany, operated for over 750 weeks at 15 MWe, about 95% of the time with thorium-based fuel. The fuel used consisted of about 100,000 billiard ball-sized fuel elements. Overall a total of 1360 kg of thorium was used, mixed with high-enriched uranium (HEU). Burnups of 150,000 MWd/t were achieved.

    Thorium fuel elements with a 10:1 Th/U (HEU) ratio were irradiated in the 20 MWth Dragon reactor at Winfrith, UK, for 741 full power days. Dragon was run as an OECD/Euratom cooperation project, involving Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland in addition to the UK, from 1964 to 1973. The Th/U fuel was used to 'breed and feed', so that the U-233 formed replaced the U-235 at about the same rate, and fuel could be left in the reactor for about six years.

    General Atomics' Peach Bottom high-temperature, graphite-moderated, helium-cooled reactor in the USA operated between 1967 and 1974 at 110 MWth, using high-enriched uranium with thorium.

    In India, the Kamini 30 kWth experimental neutron-source research reactor using U-233, recovered from ThO2 fuel irradiated in another reactor, started up in 1996 near Kalpakkam. The reactor was built adjacent to the 40 MWt Fast Breeder Test Reactor, in which the ThO2 is irradiated.

    In the Netherlands, an aqueous homogenous suspension reactor has operated at 1MWth for three years. The HEU/Th fuel is circulated in solution and reprocessing occurs continuously to remove fission products, resulting in a high conversion rate to U-233.

    There have also been several experiments with fast neutron reactors.

    Power reactors

    Much experience has been gained in thorium-based fuel in power reactors around the world, some using high-enriched uranium (HEU) as the main fuel:

    The 300 MWe THTR (Thorium High Temperature Reactor) reactor in Germany was developed from the AVR and operated between 1983 and 1989 with 674,000 pebbles, over half containing Th/HEU fuel (the rest graphite moderator and some neutron absorbers). These were continuously recycled on load and on average the fuel passed six times through the core.
    TheFort St Vrain reactor was the only commercial thorium-fuelled nuclear plant in the USA, also developed from the AVR in Germany, and operated 1976-1989. It was a high-temperature (700°C), graphite-moderated, helium-cooled reactor with a Th/HEU fuel designed to operate at 842 MWth (330 MWe). The fuel was in microspheres of thorium carbide and Th/U-235 carbide coated with silicon oxide and pyrolytic carbon to retain fission products. It was arranged in hexagonal columns ('prisms') rather than as pebbles. Almost 25 tonnes of thorium was used in fuel for the reactor, and this achieved 170,000 MWd/t burn-up.

    Thorium-based fuel for PWRs was investigated at the Shippingport reactor in the USA (discussed earlier).

    In India, thorium has been used for power flattening in the initial cores of the two Kakrapar pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs).
    The 60 MWe Lingen Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) in Germany utilised Th/Pu-based fuel test elements.

    Several advanced reactors concepts are currently being developed. These include light water reactors, in particular developments of the Radkowsky Thorium Reactor discussed earlier. Other advanced reactors under development include:

    High-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) of two kinds: pebble bed and with prismatic fuel elements. The Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR) being developed by General Atomics uses a prismatic fuel and builds on US experience, particularly from the Fort St Vrain reactor. The GT-MHR core can accommodate a wide range of fuel options, including HEU/Th, U-233/Th and Pu/Th. Pebble bed reactor development builds on German work with the AVR and THTR and is under development in China and South Africa. A pebble bed reactor can potentially use thorium in its fuel pebbles.

    The molten salt reactor (MSR) is an advanced breeder concept, in which the coolant is a molten salt, usually a fluoride salt mixture - much research has focused on lithium and beryllium additions to the salt mixture. The fuel can be dissolved enriched uranium, thorium or U-233 fluorides. The core consists of unclad graphite moderator arranged to allow the flow of salt at some 700°C and at low pressure. Heat is transferred to a secondary salt circuit and thence to steam. It is not a fast reactor, but with some moderation by the graphite is epithermal (intermediate neutron speed). The fission products dissolve in the salt and are removed continuously in an online reprocessing loop and replaced with Th-232 or U-238. Actinides remain in the reactor until they fission or are converted to higher actinides which do so. The MSR was studied in depth in the 1960s, but is now being revived because of the availability of advanced technology for the materials and components. There is now renewed interest in the MSR concept in Japan, Russia, France and the USA, and one of the six Generation IV designs selected for further development is the MSR (see also information page on Generation IV Nuclear Reactors).

    CANDU-type reactors - AECL is researching the thorium fuel cycle application to enhanced CANDU-6 and ACR-1000 reactors with 5% plutonium (reactor grade) plus thorium.

    Advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR) - India is working on this and, like the Canadian ACR design, the 300 MWe AHWR design is light water cooled. The main part of the core is subcritical with Th/U-233 oxide and Th/Pu-239 oxide, mixed so that the system is self-sustaining in U-233. The initial core will be entirely Th-Pu-239 oxide fuel assemblies, but as U-233 is available, 30 of the fuel pins in each assembly will be Th-U-233 oxide, arranged in concentric rings. It is designed for 100-year plant life and is expected to utilise 65% of the energy of the fuel. About 75% of the power will come from the thorium.

    Fast breeder reactor (FBRs), along with the AHWRs, play an essential role in India's three-stage nuclear power programme (see next section). A 500 MWe prototype FBR under construction in Kalpakkam is designed to breed U-233 from thorium.

    India

    With about six times more thorium than uranium, India has made utilisation of thorium for large-scale energy production a major goal in its nuclear power programme, utilising a three-stage concept:

    Pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) fuelled by natural uranium, plus light water reactors, producing plutonium.
    Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) using plutonium-based fuel to breed U-233 from thorium. The blanket around the core will have uranium as well as thorium, so that further plutonium (particularly Pu-239) is produced as well as the U-233.

    Advanced heavy water reactors burn the U-233 and this plutonium with thorium, getting about 75% of their power from the thorium.
    The used fuel will then be reprocessed to recover fissile materials for recycling.

    This Indian programme has moved from aiming to be sustained simply with thorium to one 'driven' with the addition of further fissile uranium and plutonium, to give greater efficiency.

    Another option for the third stage, while continuing with the PHWR and FBR stages, is the use of subcritical accelerator driven systems.

    Thorium and accelerator driven systems

    In an accelerator driven system (ADS), high-energy neutrons are produced through the spallationd reaction of high-energy protons from an accelerator striking heavy target nuclei (lead, lead-bismuth or other material). These neutrons can be directed to a subcritical reactor containing thorium, where the neutrons breed U-233 and promote the fission of it. There is therefore the possibility of sustaining a fission reaction which can readily be turned off, and used either for power generation or destruction of actinides resulting from the U/Pu fuel cycle. The use of thorium instead of uranium reduces the quantity of actinides that are produced. (See also information page on Accelerator-Driven Nuclear Energy.)
     
  19. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    (Continued here....)


    Developing a thorium-based fuel cycle

    Despite the thorium fuel cycle having a number of attractive features, development has always run into difficulties.

    The main attractive features are:

    The possibility of utilising a very abundant resource which has hitherto been of so little interest that it has never been quantified properly.
    The production of power with few long-lived transuranic elements in the waste.
    Reduced radioactive wastes generally.

    The problems include:

    The high cost of fuel fabrication, due partly to the high radioactivity of U-233 chemically separated from the irradiated thorium fuel. Separated U-233 is always contaminated with traces of U-232 (69 year half-life but whose daughter products such as thallium-208 are strong gamma emitters with very short half-lives). Although this confers proliferation resistance to the fuel cycle, it results in increased costs.

    The similar problems in recycling thorium itself due to highly radioactive Th-228 (an alpha emitter with two-year half life) present.
    Some concern over weapons proliferation risk of U-233 (if it could be separated on its own), although many designs such as the Radkowsky Thorium Reactor address this concern.

    The technical problems (not yet satisfactorily solved) in reprocessing solid fuels. However, with some designs, in particular the molten salt reactor (MSR), these problems are likely to largely disappear.
    Much development work is still required before the thorium fuel cycle can be commercialised, and the effort required seems unlikely while (or where) abundant uranium is available. In this respect, recent international moves to bring India into the ambit of international trade might result in the country ceasing to persist with the thorium cycle, as it now has ready access to traded uranium and conventional reactor designs.

    Nevertheless, the thorium fuel cycle, with its potential for breeding fuel without the need for fast neutron reactors, holds considerable potential in the long-term. It is a significant factor in the long-term sustainability of nuclear energy.


    Further Information

    Notes

    a. Neutron absorption by Th-232 produces Th-233, which has a half-life of about 22 minutes. This undergoes beta decay to form Pa-233 (half-life 27 days), most of which forms U-233 by further beta decay. Around 11% of the U-233 is converted by further neutron absorption to U-235, which is the fissile isotope of uranium used in conventional nuclear reactors. [Back]

    b. Thorium Power (www.thoriumpower.com) was formed in 1992 to develop Radkowsky's nuclear fuel designs, which would not produce weapons suitable plutonium in nuclear waste. In April 2007 the company formed an alliance with Red Star nuclear design bureau in Russia which will take forward the programme to demonstrate the technology in lead-test fuel assemblies in full-sized commercial reactors. In December 2008 Thorium Power became the first US company to sign an agreement with an Indian company (engineering firm Punj Lloyd) following the finalization of the US-India nuclear trade agreement. [Back]

    c. A normal VVER-1000 fuel assembly has 331 rods each 9 mm diameter forming a hexagonal assembly 235 mm wide. Here, the centre portion of each assembly is 155 mm across and holds the seed material consisting of metallic Pu-Zr alloy (Pu is about 10% of alloy, and isotopically over 90% Pu-239) as 108 twisted tricorn-section rods 12.75 mm across with Zr-1%Nb cladding. The sub-critical blanket consists of U-Th oxide fuel pellets (1:9 U:Th, the U enriched up to almost 20%) in 228 Zr-1%Nb cladding tubes 8.4 mm diameter - four layers around the centre portion. The blanket material achieves 100 GWd/t burn-up. Together as one fuel assembly the seed and blanket have the same geometry as a normal VVER-100 fuel assembly. [Back]

    d. Spallation is the process where nucleons are ejected from a heavy nucleus being hit by a high energy particle. In this case, a high-enery proton beam directed at a heavy target expels a number of spallation particles, including neutrons. [Back]




    References

    1. Data taken from Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand, Nuclear Energy Agency (June 2008), NEA#6345 (ISBN 9789264047662). [Back]
    2. Water Cooled Breeder Program Summary Report (LWBR Development Program) Prepared by members of the LWBR staff, Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory (October 1987). [Back]
    3. G. L. Olson, R. K. McCardell and D. B. Illum, Fuel Summary Report: Shippingport Light Water Breeder Reactor - Rev. 2, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (September 2002). [Back]
    4. A. Galperin, A. Radkowsky and M. Todosow, A Competitive Thorium Fuel Cycle for Pressurized Water Reactors of Current Technology, Proceedings of three International Atomic Energy Agency meetings held in Vienna in 1997, 1998 and 1999, IAEA TECDOC 1319: Thorium fuel utilization: Options and trends, IAEA-TECDOC-1319. [Back]

    General sources

    Thorium based fuel options for the generation of electricity: Developments in the 1990s, IAEA-TECDOC-1155, International Atomic Energy Agency, May 2000
    Taesin Chung, The role of thorium in nuclear energy, Uranium Industry Annual 1996, Energy Information Administration, DOE/EIA-0478(96) p.ix-xvii (April 1997)
    M. Benedict, T H Pigford and H W Levi, Nuclear Chemical Engineering (2nd Ed.), Chapter 6: Thorium, , p.283-317, 1981, McGraw-Hill(ISBN: 0070045313)
    Kazimi M.S. 2003, Thorium Fuel for Nuclear Energy, American Scientist (Sept-Oct 2003)
    S. B. Degweker, P. Satyamurthy, P. K. Nema and P. Singh, Program for Development of Accelerator Driven Systems in India, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India
    12th Indian Nuclear Society Annual Conference 2001 conference proceedings, vol 2 (lead paper)
    Several papers and articles related to the Radkowsky thorium fuel concept are available on Thorium Power's website (www.thoriumpower.com)

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html
     
  20. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    India's first fast breeder reactor to be ready next year

    India's first fast breeder reactor to be ready next year

    1 Feb 2009, 1728 hrs IST, IANS


    CHENNAI: After over two decades of work, India's first nuclear reactor that will breed more fuel than it consumes will be ready next year, say senior officials at the Kalpakkam nuclear complex 80 km from here.

    The heavily-guarded complex is a hive of activity now as the 4,000-odd experts who are designing and building the 500-MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) can finally foresee when it will be ready.

    A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes, so that the reaction - that ultimately produces electricity - can continue.

    If all goes well, the Rs.35 billion (Rs.3,500 crore/$700 million) project promoted by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini) will become the crowning glory for the experts past and present at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at the complex that already houses four nuclear power reactors.

    "The project is interestingly poised. Civil construction is nearing completion. Most of the reactor components are at the site and deliveries of other equipment are expected soon," IGCAR Director Baldev Raj told IANS.

    Measured in terms of physical progress - including component manufacturing - around 40 percent of the project work is complete with an average increase of around 2.5 percent every month.

    Officials are hopeful of getting the necessary clearances from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) this month to erect the main vessel and other equipments.

    Last June, the huge safety vessel (200 tonnes, 13 metres in diameter and 13 metres in depth) was lowered into the reactor vault.

    "Normally safety clearances are in a sequence; first for the site followed by clearances for concrete pour, erection of major equipments and reactor commissioning," IGCAR's reactor engineering group director S.C. Chetal said.

    As the project itself is first of its kind in India clearance for lowering of the safety vessel was obtained first.

    Bhavini's project director Prabhat Kumar, who literally oversees the project's progress through the glass wall opposite his seat, told IANS: "Around Rs.1400 crore (Rs.14 billion) has been spent till date. This year we have exceeded even the revised estimates of Rs.725 crore (Rs.7.25 billion)."

    Orders have been placed for equipments worth around Rs.32.50 billion (Rs.3, 250 crore) and purchase orders worth Rs.2.5 billion (Rs.250 crore) will be soon issued.

    Reeling off the equipment that has been received - safety vessel, main vessel, thermal insulation, thermal baffle, five sodium pumps, four argon buffer tanks, grid plate and others - Kumar listed the items to be received, such as inner vessel, roof slabs for the reactor building, compressed air system and nitrogen supply system.

    Around 175 tonnes of solid sodium in 98 tankers have been imported from France and out of that 75 tonnes have been transferred to the sodium tanks.

    "Next fiscal we will get two steam generators, heat exchangers, sodium pumps, similar panels," he added.

    Civil works to house power generation equipment like turbine generator and facilities like sea water pump house, sea water intake and others have started and by this March switchyard, auxiliary power and outfall structures will be ready.

    Confident that the reactor would start generating power some time in 2010, Kumar added a rider: "There may be some surprises as the project is the first of its kind in many ways".

    He added: "Each and every weld point in reactor equipment has to be inspected and safety certified. It is dangerous to ease fabrication and welding processes."

    The officials, however, fall silent when asked about rise in project cost due to rising prices of steel, cement and other raw material. "The Bhavini board has to consider the revised cost estimates first," is all they say.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...t_year/articleshow/4060057.cms?TOI_latestnews
     
  21. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    Thanks DD for an excellent thread. Let's get some good details of Indian Thorium programme here.
     

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