The Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor (FTBR) http://www.indianofficer.com/forums/india-world/5579-fast-thorium-breeder-reactor-ftbr.html The Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor (FTBR) In order to achieve self sufficiency in energy, India is hoping to boost its nuclear energy development. However, the lack of Uranium resources in our country is a major hindrance to this objective. This was well recognized in our three stage nuclear programme and hence there has been directed effort towards looking for other materials. One such alternative that is blessed in India with abundance is Thorium which can be used to produce the more fissile U-233, which can be used for energy generation. This can be done using a FTBR. What is a breeder reactor? The fast breeder reactor is a special reactor type. Most reactors are called thermal reactors because they utilise slow neutrons to trigger nuclear fission. As the name would suggest fast breeders utilise fast neutrons. They also act as efficient breeders of fissionable material, especially plutonium. The idea behind the fast breeder is to produce more fissionable material than is consumed. For instance by bombarding a nucleus of uranium-238, that is natural uranium, one can breed plutonium-239 after two successive beta decays. Plutonium-239 is the isotope of plutonium generally used in nuclear weapons. Nuclear fission that is unleashed by fast or high energy neutrons produces more new neutrons than that by way of thermal neutrons. Pu-239 with fast neutrons produces 2.9 neutrons per fission, the highest for the various fissile isotopes. If one were to surround the core of a fast reactor with a blanket of ordinary uranium the neutrons produced from the core could turn this material into more plutonium-239 by way of the above reaction again. By placing a very tight fit between the blanket and the core of a fast reactor comparatively few neutrons would be lost and over time thereby the amount of plutonium produced would exceed the amount consumed. The case of FTBR ============== The idea with such thorium reactors is to use thorium to breed uranium-233, a fissionable isotope of uranium. This is possible by using a blanket of Thorium around a core of Pu-239. Thus essentially, we would be able to get Uranium without actually possessing it in large quantity. All that is required is an initial seed of Plutonium which can be provided by reprocessing the fuel obtained from the heavy water reactors. Economics of the Breeder reactor Programme ============================== ==== Nuclear fuel cycles based on the fast breeder reactor concept have been the holy grail of the nuclear industry but have been dismal failures. But a few countries still are pursuing the dream such as Japan, France, China and India. Most countries have dropped this technique due to its lack of cost efficiency. However, since India lacks natural uranium resources,it is pursuing the program in all its sincerity.