India's Thorium based nuclear power programme

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

  1. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Reactor for making hydrogen being developed as tech demonstrator: Kakodkar

    Reactor for making hydrogen being developed as tech demonstrator: Kakodkar


    KALPAKKAM (TN): India has joined the league of countries like South Africa, China, US and Germany which are trying to develop a high temperature
    reactor for generating hydrogen on a large scale. Hydrogen can be used as fuel for vehicles, besides other scientific applications in the future.

    The technology demonstrator reactor would be ready by 2015 and work is currently in progress on the project, Anil Kakodkar, Atomic Energy Commission chairman told reporters here on Sunday.

    Srikumar Banerjee, director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), said the reactor would generate hydrogen by splitting water. The reactor's operational efficiency would be very much enhanced. Already efforts are on in countries to develop such a reactor, he said.

    "The programme is on course. Technology development is on, we are developing the reactor design, materials, material processing capabilities. The actual construction of the reactor will take some time," he said.

    Kakodkar said India would have sufficient uranium to meet the requirements of the already existing reactors and those in the process of being commissioned.

    "By 2012-13, we would overcome the problems for all the reactors currently operating and those that will come on stream. We are looking at launching four 700 Mw units, for which in-principle approval has been granted. We want to get the approvals at the earliest and start construction soon. That is where the new mines will come in handy. We also want to construct another four 700Mwe units," he said.

    Uranium production in India was going up, he added. "We earlier had one mill in Jadaguda in Jharkhand. Now we have augmented the capacity there. Simultaneously expansion of mines in Mohudih in Jharkhand and a mill in Tummalapalli in Andhra Pradesh is going on, Kakodkar said, adding that Gogi in Karnataka would be explored for uranium presence.

    Also, in a couple of years all the reactors (both operational and the ones that are being commissioned) would reach a plant load factor of 90%. "We are adding capacity for our reactors. Rajasthan V and VI and Kaiga IV will come online in a phased manned this year and next year," the AEC chairman said.

    "In terms of production of enriched uranium fuel, we would be able to meet the national requirments," he added.

    For electricity production, trhe immediate plan would be to acquire this technology from outside. "While we are building the PHWRs and FBRs and later on the thorium reactors, we would, in parallel, develop the PWRs on the basis of our own strengths." Kakodkar said.
     
  2. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production Potential in the Indian Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor - Science & Global Security: The Technical Basis for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation Initiatives

    Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production Potential in the Indian Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor

    Abstract
    India is building a 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, which is scheduled to be operational by 2010. India has refused to accept international safeguards on this facility, raising concerns that the plutonium produced in its uranium blankets might be used to make nuclear weapons. Based on neutronics calculations for a detailed three-dimensional model of the reactor, we estimate that up to 140 kg of weapon-grade plutonium could be produced with this facility each year. This article shows how India's large stockpile of separated reactor-grade plutonium from its unsafeguarded spent heavy-water reactor fuel could serve as makeup fuel to allow such diversion of the weapon-grade plutonium from the blankets of the fast breeder reactor. We describe and assess the most plausible refueling strategies for producing weapon-grade plutonium in this way.
     
  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Separation of Civilian and Military Nuclear Facilities | India Defence

    Separation of Civilian and Military Nuclear Facilities

    Dated 14/12/2005

    Recently, Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh made the reassuring statement that work on separating India’s civilian and military nuclear facilities was at a fairly advanced stage. India has agreed to identify and separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities in a phased manner and place all its civilian facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regime to fulfill its part of the nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States (US).

    The agreement on nuclear cooperation is the primary element of the new strategic partnership that is being explored between India and the US, and its successful implementation would depend on how the US views India’s plan for separation of facilities as well as its commitment to comply with an additional protocol.

    The separation of facilities is the primary nonproliferation selling point of the deal, and its purpose is to ensure that outside assistance does not benefit India's nuclear weapons program. In November 2005, the US ambassador to India stated that India must present a plan for civilian-military separation and begin to implement it before the US administration would request congressional approval. More recently, Richard Lugar, the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations mentioned to a visiting Indian delegation that the current debate in the US Congress centers on this aspect of India’s obligations, and that the separation plan must ensure that any cooperation does not assist India’s nuclear weapons program. An important aspect of the plan would be the nature of safeguards being implemented between India and the IAEA.

    What is the likely nature of the safeguards agreement under the plan? The joint statement does not commit to any particular form of safeguards. The safeguards agreements between the IAEA and the NPT recognized nuclear weapons states (NWS) allow the removal of civilian facilities from safeguards and the transfer of nuclear materials out of them for national security reasons. However, as suggested by senior US governmental officials, India should not be expected to be treated the same as NWS and such variable safeguards are unlikely to be acceptable to the US. It is likely that India would be expected to adopt facility-specific safeguards in perpetuity once a facility is declared as civilian, requiring that these facilities may not be used to process nuclear materials for the military sector.

    The Indian negotiators of the deal would therefore be steering a course between what is desirable, given the requirement of a beneficial outcome for the civilian and military sectors at an affordable cost, and what is acceptable to the US, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) members, and the international nonproliferation regime. In any separation arrangement, the civilian sector would benefit if a large number of existing facilities are declared as civilian for two reasons. First, access to inputs from abroad such as financing, technology and fuel supplies would accrue only to this sector. To illustrate, India’s power program is uranium-constrained and some heavy-water reactors have slowed operations to conserve natural uranium fuel. The enriched uranium that Russia has supplied for the Tarapur light water reactors will be exhausted in 2006. To conserve enriched uranium, fuel containing 10 percent mixed oxide fuel (MOX) has been used at Tarapur and it is possible to increase this fraction up to 30 percent without expensive design changes. Therefore, India’s need for uranium imports would place a lower bound on the number of power reactors in its civilian nuclear complex. Second, to the extent that safeguards would result in the duplication of many facilities to separately serve the civilian and military sectors, the cost of duplication would affect the economics of nuclear power.

    On the other hand, since there is no constraint on transfer of materials from the military to the civilian sector, it might appear expedient for India to retain its military option by declaring a large number of facilities to be military. Recently, the Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) stated that only facilities that have no national security significance will be civilian. Most Indian facilities have played a dual role in the past, and this approach would minimize the size of the civilian sector. In addition to being detrimental to the civilian sector, such a strategy is unlikely to be acceptable to the US or the NSG.

    Partitioning of Plutonium Reserves

    The main reason why sections of the Indian strategic and nuclear establishments would want to keep a large number of facilities in the military sector is to retain India's options for generating weapons-usable plutonium. Currently, India’s weapons-grade plutonium is produced in two research reactors – CIRUS and Dhruva, located at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) campus. These reactors are operated with a low-burnup, and the fuel rods are removed after brief irradiation and the resulting plutonium separated. Such low burnups are not efficient for power production. High burnups used in power production result in higher isotopes of plutonium, which are suboptimal for weapons production. However, the inherently dual nature of this part of the nuclear program lies in the fact that, despite the higher isotopes in reactor grade plutonium, it can also be used to make fission weapons.

    The plutonium produced in India’s power reactors is also an integral part of its plans for three stage power programme – the plutonium produced in the first stage is to be used in the second stage in its proposed Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) to produce fissile uranium-233. The rate at which uranium-233 fuel is made available for its third stage that would use India’s plentiful supplies of thorium, therefore depends on the quantities of plutonium produced in its first stage. In addition, plutonium separated from its power reactors can be used as MOX for its light water reactors in Tarapur.

    One implication of where the lines are drawn in separating India’s nuclear facilities, therefore, is the partitioning of plutonium supplies for weapons production on the military side and as fuel for FBRs and MOX fuel for the civilian programme. This calls for reflection and discussion within the nuclear and strategic establishments on what India’s nuclear posture should be. For example, it is estimated by some analysts that India already has a stock of weapons-grade plutonium from CIRUS and Dhruva for a hundred weapons of 20-kilotons each. If this is sufficient, there is no reason for the power reactors to remain in the military sector.

    Uranium Enrichment and Fuel Reprocessing

    India’s main uranium enrichment plant in Rattehalli, Karnataka, produces enriched uranium for its nuclear submarine program. Its enrichment capacity is much lower than what is needed to power a single light water power reactor. It is not clear whether material from safeguarded facilities can be used to power nuclear submarines under this agreement, but its status as a potential source of highly enriched uranium for India’s thermonuclear weapons program makes it likely that it would be in the military sector. India has a pilot-scale ultracentrifuge enrichment plant in BARC that can produce 2 kg of weapons grade uranium each year and is likely to become a part of the military sector.

    Plutonium reprocessing is where duplication of facilities will inevitably arise in any separation programme, because the plutonium extracted from spent fuel is useable in both the weapons and the proposed fast breeder program. The medium-scale reprocessing facility operated by the AEC in Trombay is not under international safeguards currently and processes fuel from CIRUS and Dhruva. As the main source of plutonium for the weapons program, it is likely to be part of the military sector. The large-scale plant at Tarapur reprocesses fuel meant for the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) and Tarapur’s MOX fabrication facilities. The Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant is another large scale plant that has been earmarked for India’s FBR programme, and currently reprocesses fuel from MAPP and FBTR. The eventual status of these two reprocessing plants would depend on the status of the upstream and downstream facilities. If, as senior Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) officials have suggested, FBTR is declared military then the reprocessing plant that supplies them cannot remain in the civilian sector. The Tarapur facilities should then be declared civilian so that it can continue to supply MOX fuel to the power program.

    Contours of Separation

    As part of its plans for separating its facilities, India will eventually begin discussions with the IAEA about the nature of safeguards it will implement. Current safeguards on Indian facilities do not enforce separation. For example, safeguards apply to the reprocessing plant and mixed oxide fabrication facility in Tarapur only while processing safeguarded spent fuels such as the fuel from the Rajasthan reactors. India’s negotiators should gauge whether continuing such arrangements on currently safeguarded facilities would be acceptable to India's partners in the deal.

    In the face of uncertainty about the exact form the safeguards arrangements would eventually take, Indian planners must be willing to make choices in the context of complete separation. Given the existing plutonium stocks and the potential for further plutonium production from the research reactors Dhruva and CIRUS, the power reactors are not necessary for the military complex and should be open to safeguards. The FBTR is likely to remain unsafeguarded, and it remains to be seen what plans the DAE has for operational FBR’s once they come on stream.Keeping these reactors in the military sector will complicate access to uranium for the first stage reactors that would supply the second stage of this program. Furthermore, the heavy water reactors are not required to produce tritium for its weapons program. That leaves the research reactors, in addition to the facilities controlled by BARC, under the military blanket. In partitioning dual-use enrichment, fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities the following questions should be asked: First, are they useful to the civilian nuclear power program? Second, are they essential to the military nuclear weapons program? Because materials, facilities and personnel are involved only the experts in the DAE can work out the details of separating these facilities.

    If the India-US deal moves forward and is approved by the US Congress and NSG, this would give it greater freedom to pursue cooperation with countries possessing nuclear materials and technology. Perhaps its greatest benefit would be the flexibility to cooperate with countries that have experience with FBRs. Or perhaps the emphasis would be on obtaining access to natural and enriched uranium fuel for its first stage reactors. While all these avenues may be simultaneously pursued, it must be remembered that international cooperation would require the facilities receiving assistance to be subject to safeguards, and to that extent India’s priorities for international cooperation must be articulated. Having clear priorities would also help India’s negotiators navigate a situation in which offers of cooperation come with strings attached.

    A Note of Caution

    The ancillary costs of nuclear power in India will increase if dedicated facilities have to be established to separately service the civilian and military sectors. The DAE is clearly sensitive to this fact, and the Chairman of the AEC indicated that cost would be a factor in identifying what is civilian. But if facility-specific safeguards happen, then some of the initial costs of replication will be unavoidable. Efforts must be made to understand the effects of separation on the costs of nuclear power by studying the costs of the kind of facilities that are being duplicated over their lifetimes.

    Progress in the deal should not be seen as a referendum in favor of nuclear power. Rather, the choice of generation technology should be based on assessment of costs. To assess the economics of nuclear power in comparison to other sources such as natural gas and coal a complete analysis of its economics, including the costs of fuel fabrication, heavy water, spent fuel reprocessing, and waste storage and disposal is necessary. The cost estimates published by the DAE omit these factors. More generally, there is a need for establishing methodology for integrated resource planning to identify energy choices and this must be openly subject to discussion.
     
  5. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    India designs new version of AHW reactor for use with thorium

    India designs new version of AHW reactor for use with thorium
    [​IMG] 17 September 2009


    Mumbai: India has designed a new version of its Advanced Heavy Water Reactor which will use low enriched uranium along with thorium as fuel, according to chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar who made the announcement Wednesday in Vienna.

    [​IMG]The 300 MWe Bhabha Atomic Research Centre designed and developed AHWR is a mainly thorium-fuelled reactor with several advanced passive safety features. The reactor is expected to start production soon, Kakodkar said.
    "A new version of AHWR named Advanced Heavy Water Reactor-Low Enriched Uranium (AHWR-LEU) that uses low enriched uranium along with thorium as fuel has been designed recently," Kakodkar said at the International Atomic Energy Agency's general conference.
    Significantly, the reactor will have a significantly lower requirement of mined uranium per unit energy produced, as compared to most of the current generation thermal reactors.

    "This version can also meet the requirement of medium sized reactors in countries with small grids while meeting the requirements of next generation systems," Kakodkar said.
    Indicating that India was ready for export of such reactors in the near future Kakodkar also said that the Indian Department of Atomic Energy had circulated a brochure of the new AHWR-LEU at the conference for the benefit of potential customers.
    "While we strongly advocate recycle option, AHWR-LEU would also compete very favourably even in once-through mode of fuel cycle (where spent fuel is stored without reprocessing)," he said.
    AHWR has high level of fault tolerance and provides for a much greater immunity even from inside threat. These features therefore, offer enhanced intrinsic proliferation resistant characteristics and high security strength, Kakodkar said.
    The safety features in its design would enable meeting next generation safety requirements such as three days grace period for operator response, elimination of the need for exclusion zone beyond the plant boundary, hundred year design life and high level of fault tolerance, he said.
    The reactor is manageable with modest industrial infrastructure within the reach of developing countries.
    Also, for the same amount of energy produced, the quantity of long- lived minor actinides generated is nearly half of that produced in current generation Light Water Reactors.



    domain-b.com : India designs new version of AHW reactor for use with thorium
     
  6. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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  7. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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  8. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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  9. NSG_Blackcats

    NSG_Blackcats Member of The Month OCTOBER 2009 Senior Member

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    Nuclear reactor model unveiled for exports

    New nuclear reactor model unveiled for exports​


    Kazakhstan, Asean countries among potential markets. ​


    New Delhi, Sept. 26: India has marked its entry into the nuclear export market, with a new reactor model christened AHWR300-LEU. The prototype, which was designed and developed recently, uses low enriched uranium along with thorium as fuel and is a new version of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AWHR).

    According to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the reactor has a significantly lower requirement of mined uranium per unit energy produced compared to most of the current generation thermal reactors and is being marketed for countries with small grids. India formally unveiled the prototype at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 53rd General Conference in Vienna earlier this month.

    “This version of the design can meet the requirement of medium sized reactors, in countries with small grids while meeting the needs of next generation systems. ‘AHWR300-LEU’ possesses several features, which are likely to reduce its capital and operating costs and make it ideally suited for leveraging the industrial capabilities available in several developing countries,” a DAE official said.

    One of the selling points being buttressed by the Indian side is the inherent “proliferation-resistant” features of the reactor’s fuel cycle. “The reactor provides a better utilisation of natural uranium… The composition of the fresh as well as the spent fuel of ‘AHWR300-LEU’ makes the fuel cycle inherently proliferation resistant,” the official said.

    Indigenous reactors, services

    India has been proactively exploring the possibility of exporting indigenous reactor designs to developing nations that are eyeing nuclear power generation but are constrained by small-size electricity grids.

    With the opening up of international civil nuclear co-operation, which has technically cleared the decks for India to enter the global nuclear trade, the potential for export of indigenous reactors and services is being viewed as a viable commercial proposition, an official said.

    Globally, the major developers of nuclear reactors in the EU and North America have moved on to larger reactor sizes of 700 MWe or 1,000 MWe and above. India stands out in having an active nuclear power programme using the small-sized 220 MWe reactors, which is based on proven technology in a number of domestic atomic stations.

    Officials said small size nuclear reactors are apt for countries that have small grids of around 10,000 MW. Use of large reactor units in countries having small grids could potentially lead to grid failures, if even a single large unit shuts down at any point in time.

    India has held preliminary discussions on the possibility of setting up a nuclear power reactor in Kazakhstan based on Indian reactor design. Several Asean countries are reported to be eyeing the nuclear option, with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand, among those having announced plans to tap atomic energy in the future.

    Link
     
  10. Rajan

    Rajan Regular Member

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    Our nuke reactors technology specially the AHWR and Th based FBR are highly advanced with next generation safety features and very low chance of proliferation as well as low cost. We should eye the markets of ASEAN, Africa and Latin America.

    Our unique three stage nuclear reactors not only increases the production of electricity and safety but also decreases proliferation issues. First stage Plutonium based PHWR, second stage Th FBR and third stage Th-U based advanced reactor. We are also a part of the ITER.
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Pokhran II : Chemical Engineers' Contributions

    Pokhran II : Chemical Engineers' Contributions


    Submitted by Mr. Rajdip Bandyopadhyay (May 13, 1998)

    Amid the recent incident of nuclear bomb blasts, it is interesting to note the following excerpt, which appeared in Janes' - the comprehensive missile sourcebook, referred widely for trade and development in missile technology. Importantly, this appeared 4 months earlier and showcases India's potential towards making a fusion (Hydrogen) bomb. That what happened now, 4 months later, is indeed what had been predicted in the following report, is for all of us to see.

    The reason I want you to read the article is, it involves a success story of Indian scientists, and indeed of a group of Chemical Engineers at BARC. They have developed a very low cost method of producing gaseous Tritium, which apparently is used in thermonuclear weapons like hydrogen bomb. Specifically, the team developed a hydrophobic catalyst which produces enriched tritium gas from heavy water, the latter being a by-product from nuclear reactor coolants and is abundant in India.

    India thus possesses a very cheap and easy source of tritium, critical for nuclear weapons, which beats the Americans hands down in terms of the production method and costs. And this is indigeneous technology, starting from producing tritium to finally recovering an enriched gas-stream through a cascaded sequence of 3 multicomponent distillation units, comprising of 240 stages!

    Regards,
    Rajdip.
     
  12. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    and that's another reason for india to avoid china's preference for RE or rather it shoould be called PE ( parasite engineering ) . Looks like payoff days are close for many areas of indias r&d Departments.
     
  13. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    Have you all noticed , on this thread where india clearly has made great strides , our Chinese members have been conspicuously SILENT !!!
     
  14. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Reading this thread for the first time. what struck me in the article in the first post by LF apart from the ingenious way to extract Tritium is the mention of religion of Dr Kalam. What's wrong with the author?
     
  15. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Roma is baiting the Chinese members in so that Ahmed can ban them :D
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    this article was from a pakistani source
     
  17. natarajan

    natarajan Senior Member Senior Member

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    he is one among few genuines i dont know why author playing religious card ,anyway lets take the issue and ignore the few ignorance sentence:blum3:
     
  18. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    That was obvious that the author was Pakistani. But what's the reason to point out the religion of the man in charge?
    Such references impacts the credibility of the author in the international arena though he has written good about Indian progress even if it's out of envy.
     
  19. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    India Developing Thorium Based Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor | India Defence

    India Developing Thorium Based Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor

    Dated 2/7/2007
    Printer Friendly Subscribe
    A team of scientists at a premier Indian nuclear facility has made a theoretical design of an innovative reactor that can run on thorium - available in abundance in the country - and will eventually do away with the need for uranium.

    But the success of the project largely depends on the US playing ball. The novel Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor (FTBR) being developed by V. Jagannathan and his team at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai has received global attention after a paper was submitted to the International Conference on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems (ICENES) held June 9-14 in Istanbul.

    This was reported on NEWSPost India.

    Power reactors of today mostly use a fissile fuel called uranium-235 (U-235), whose 'fission' releases energy and some 'spare' neutrons that maintain the chain reaction. But only seven out of 1,000 atoms of naturally occurring uranium are of this type. The rest are 'fertile', meaning they cannot fission but can be converted into fissionable plutonium by neutrons released by U-235.

    Thorium, which occurs naturally, is another 'fertile' element that can be turned by neutrons into U-233, another uranium isotope. U-233 is the only other known fissionable material. It is also called the 'third fuel'.

    Thorium is three times more abundant in the earth's crust than uranium but was never inducted into reactors because - unlike uranium - it has no fissionable atoms to start the chain reaction.

    But once the world's uranium runs out, thorium - and the depleted uranium discharged by today's power reactors - could form the 'fertile base' for nuclear power generation, the BARC scientists claim in their paper.

    They believe their FTBR is one such 'candidate' reactor that can produce energy from these two fertile materials with some help from fissile plutonium as a 'seed' to start the fire.

    By using a judicious mix of 'seed' plutonium and fertile zones inside the core, the scientists show theoretically that their design can breed not one but two nuclear fuels - U-233 from thorium and plutonium from depleted uranium - within the same reactor.

    This totally novel concept of fertile-to-fissile conversion has prompted its designers to christen their baby the Fast 'Twin' Breeder Reactor.

    Their calculations show the sodium-cooled FTBR, while consuming 10.96 tonnes of plutonium to generate 1,000 MW of power, breeds 11.44 tonnes of plutonium and 0.88 tonnes of U-233 in a cycle length of two years.

    According to the scientists, their FTBR design exploits the fact that U-233 is a better fissile material than plutonium. Secondly, they were able to maximise the breeding by putting the fertile materials inside the core rather than as a 'blanket' surrounding the core as done traditionally.

    'At present, there are no internal fertile blankets or fissile breeding zones in power reactors operating in the world,' the paper claims.

    The concept has won praise from nuclear experts elsewhere. 'Core heterogeneity is the best way to help high conversion,' says Alexis Nuttin, a French nuclear scientist at the LPSC Reactor Physics Group in Grenoble.

    Thorium-based fuels and fuel cycles have been used in the past and are being developed in a few countries but are yet to be commercialised.

    France is also studying a concept of 'molten salt reactor' where the fuel is in liquid form, while the US is considering a gas-cooled reactor using thorium. McLean, Virginia-based Thorium Power Ltd of the US, has been working with nuclear engineers and scientists of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow for over a decade to develop designs that can be commercialised.

    But BARC's FTBR is claimed to be the first design that truly exploits the concept of 'breeding' in a reactor that uses thorium. The handful of fast breeder reactors (FBRs) in the world today - including the one India is building in Kalpakkam near Chennai - use plutonium as fuel.

    These breeders have to wait until enough plutonium is accumulated through reprocessing of spent fuel discharged by thermal power reactors that run on uranium.

    Herein lies the rub.

    India does not have sufficient uranium to build enough thermal reactors to produce the plutonium needed for more FBRs of the Kalpakkam type. The India-US civilian nuclear deal was expected to enable India import uranium and reprocess spent fuel to recover plutonium for its FBRs. But this deal has hit a roadblock.

    'Jagannathan's design is one way of utilising thorium and circumventing the delays in building plutonium-based FBRs,' says former BARC director P.K. Iyengar.

    Meanwhile, India's 300,000 tonnes of thorium reserves - the third largest in the world - in the beach sands of Kerala and Orissa states are waiting to be tapped. The BARC scientists say that thorium should be inducted into power reactors when the uranium is still available, rather than after it is exhausted.

    But the FTBR still needs an initial inventory of plutonium to kick-start the thorium cycle and eventually to generate electricity. A blanket ban on India re-processing imported uranium - a condition for nuclear cooperation with the US - could make India's thorium programme a non-starter.

    Iyengar has one suggestion that he says must be acceptable to the US if it is serious about helping India to solve its energy problem.

    'The US and Russia have piles of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons,' Iyengar told IANS, adding: 'They should allow us to borrow this plutonium needed to start our breeders. We can return the material after we breed enough.'
     
  20. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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