India's Thorium based nuclear power programme

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Angela Saini: India's Thorium-Fuelled Dreams

India's Thorium-Fuelled Dreams

Thorium is to nuclear power what the fifth Beatle was to pop music. It's the nuclear fuel that showed glorious promise in the early days of atomic energy but somehow, somewhere along the way, got forgotten.

I first learned about India's plans to revive thorium power in 2009 when I started writing Geek Nation, a book that explores India's apparent ambitions to become a scientific superpower. I was given rare access to the sprawling hub for the country's civilian nuclear program, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, not far from Bombay. Research into thorium-fuelled reactors has been happening on this site since 1955 (a fact made obvious by the feeling of stepping into a time-warp when you pass through the security barriers) and is finally approaching its zenith. It's a project that encapsulates India's dreams to become a global technological leader.

Thorium is the original nuclear fuel. It powered the world's first full-scale atomic power station, built in 1954 in Shippingport in Pennsylvania. And at the time, it seemed ideal: more energy is released by thorium than by the same amount of uranium fuel, which means it creates less waste. It also has fewer long-lived waste elements, which don't need to be stored under such tight conditions or for so long. But after Shippingport was proven to work, uranium became the favored nuclear fuel instead, partly because the properties of thorium meant it couldn't be refined to make weapons.

Today, as the availability and price of uranium becomes a possible barrier to the growth of nuclear power and as nations begin the search for cleaner and safer fuels, thorium is making a comeback, with India leading the way.

"In India, the supply of thorium is at least eight times that of uranium," I was told by Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha, the director of the reactor design and development group at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Indeed, there are millions of tons of monazite -- the ore from which thorium is extracted -- lying on Indian beaches. His team is now working on an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, powered by thorium, designed to have a lifespan of a hundred years. It is slated to be up and running within the next couple of years. And if it's successful, the government plans to roll it out as one of India's next-generation power sources.

But these thorium reactors represent something more than simply India's ambitions to expand its energy infrastructure. Like China, this nation of geeks is building a formidable expertise in indigenous nuclear technology.

According to the World Nuclear Association, India wants to supply a quarter of its electricity from nuclear power by 2050, up from around three percent now. Sinha's hope is that it might eventually supply half. The civilian nuclear power program also has one eye on the export market -- selling smaller nuclear reactors to developing nations that are desperate for more carbon-free energy.

The country's space program is another example of India's long-term thinking when it comes to science and engineering. Launched in the same year as NASA's first moon landings, the Indian Space Research Organization has gone from a modest satellite-launching project to sending a probe to the moon in 2008. Now, it is planning its first manned mission. G. Madhavan Nair, a rocket scientist and the Indian Space Research Organisation's former Chairman, told me in 2010, "The presence of man in the outer space is going to be one of the major requirements for the future space community." Another veteran space scientist suggested to me that India might also one day need to mine resources on other planets.

It's easy to be skeptical about the achievements of Indian scientists. They haven't made nearly as much of a mark as the Chinese have, and in terms of patents and publications, they still lag behind Europe, the U.S., Australia and Japan. But by the end of my research for Geek Nation, it became clear that this was a nation planning for the far future. And not just any future: a technological one.

For all of the cheap generic pharmaceutical labs, unimaginative IT outsourcing companies and charges of mediocrity against Indian scientific institutions over the last two decades, there is a growing resolve to invest in the long-term growth of science and technology. The government is building hundreds of new universities and engineering colleges, with the aim of more than doubling student numbers. There are also plans for a $250 million neutrino observatory, which would boost India's international standing in particle physics.

Yet no story quite captures India's remarkable power to think long-term quite like that of thorium. Quietly researching this fuel for decades, Indian scientists have waited for just the right moment to build their first thorium-powered nuclear reactor. If the rest of the world believes India to be a sleeping elephant that is finally rising, then this tale reveals just how much more there will be to see when the elephant is fully awake.

There is a quote that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has borrowed twice from the legendary wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill (both times in speeches to the Indian Science Congress, the nation's biggest annual science meet), which sums up his country's ambitions quite neatly: "The empires of the future are going to be the empires of the mind."
 

ani82v

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Our scientists should all be called for a meeting in the capital where they are asked to form a consensus and write what they require and that must be given to them whether it is money, infrastructure etc. Scientist is the most important person in India imo.
What stops our Govt to Shree Ganesh? Or may be we are waiting for some breakthrough to be achieved by the West first.
May be we are Arabs in Thorium but we are Arabs in Thorium related technology too, at the moment. :p
 
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What stops our Govt to Shree Ganesh? Or may be we are waiting for some breakthrough to be achieved by the West first.
May be we are Arabs in Thorium but we are Arabs in Thorium related technology too, at the moment. :p
The govt maybe waiting for NSG membership before revealing how far advanced
the thorium program is? Especially with the news of nuclear reactors for export recently.
 

ani82v

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Sounds more like a feel good article intended to publicize the book she wrote. She is trying to portray all the technological achievements as a result of intentional well planned long term thinking. Except ISRO, BARC and some other handful of institution, everything good that is happening to India is because of the factors which are not in India's control. Out Institutions have not yet learnt to create the environment where they could thrive. We just get lucky.

Quietly researching this fuel for decades, Indian scientists have waited for just the right moment to build their first thorium-powered nuclear reactor.
I kept going back at this line again and again. What this Womania was saying that Indian scientists were quietly waiting (really??) for the right moment. Had they mastered the technology, they would have operationalized the first reactor long back. And what exactly does this right moment mean? Right Muhurat? :pmegusta:
 
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Sounds more like a feel good article intended to publicize the book she wrote. She is trying to portray all the technological achievements as a result of intentional well planned long term thinking. Except ISRO, BARC and some other handful of institution, everything good that is happening to India is because of the factors which are not in India's control. Out Institutions have not yet learnt to create the environment where they could thrive. We just get lucky.



I kept going back at this line again and again. What this Womania was saying that Indian scientists were quietly waiting (really??) for the right moment. Had they mastered the technology, they would have operationalized the first reactor long back. And what exactly does this right moment mean? Right Muhurat? :pmegusta:
regardless of the feel good factor. India taking the thorium route while the world took the uranium
route turned out to be a smarter choice,and this was recognized by Indian scientists decades ago.
 
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India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal | Firstpost


New Delhi: India and Canada — an energy giant and member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group — on Wednesday decided to fast-track the remaining procedures to implement their civil nuclear deal and agreed to step up cooperation in the area of oil and gas.

"We also look forward to early completion of negotiations on appropriate arrangements for the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 2010," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart John Baird.

The talks have set the agenda for the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India, likely in November.

Pic used for representational purposes only. Getty Images
Fast-tracking implementation of the nuclear deal was among a cluster of bilateral issues the two ministers discussed that also included intensification of economic and energy ties and counter-terror cooperation between the two countries.

"There are no issues that are holding it up. It's an important milestone in our relations. These are a matter of details and we look forward to an an early completion of these arrangements," Krishna said when asked whether there were any issues that were coming in the way of implementing the nuclear agreement.

In an important clarification, Canada stressed that it was not insisting on any additional conditionalities for supplying uranium to India.

"We certainly have no additional concerns. The administrative procedures and details take some time, but we look forward to a successful conclusion of these agreements," said Baird, who began his five-day trip to India Sunday.

Stepping up cooperation in hydrocarbons loomed large on the agenda, with Indian companies looking to acquire stakes in energy companies in Canada.

Describing Canada as "an energy superpower", Krishna said India was looking at Canada "as an important source of oil and gas".

"We look forward to supplying natural gas to India," said Baird.

GAIL (India) Ltd is understood to be buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets which have been put up for sale by Spain's Repsol SA in Canada.

India's state-owned energy major ONGC Videsh is exploring the possibility of investing in oil sands and LNG in western Canada's Alberta province.
 

Blackwater

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Re: India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

Title is misleading

It should be "India and Punjab to fast track nuclear deal""


:taunt1::taunt1::taunt1::taunt1:
 

roma

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Re: India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

yeah hahah - india and punCanjab are gonna link deal

but really , - to the critics of manmohan sigh and of the usa-india nuke deal, here is evidence of it working

without the usa-india nuke deal all this would have been a long negotiation for years , resulting in a stalemate

also we can do deals with france etc - much easier with the pass given by nsg
 

The Messiah

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Re: India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

Title is misleading

It should be "India and Punjab to fast track nuclear deal""


:taunt1::taunt1::taunt1::taunt1:
You should also move to canada and help our cause.

Have atleast a dozen children :cool2:
 
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Re: India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

yeah hahah - india and punCanjab are gonna link deal

but really , - to the critics of manmohan sigh and of the usa-india nuke deal, here is evidence of it working

without the usa-india nuke deal all this would have been a long negotiation for years , resulting in a stalemate

also we can do deals with france etc - much easier with the pass given by nsg
This is the best line from the article:

In an important clarification, Canada stressed that it was not insisting on any additional conditionalities for supplying uranium to India.
 
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Re: India, Canada to fast-track nuclear deal

Not worried about nuclear deal with India, says Canada

Not worried about nuclear deal with India, says Canada

Canada on Wednesday said that it did not have any proliferation concern over civil nuclear cooperation with India, even as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Canadian counterpart John Baird agreed to expedite implementation of the bilateral deal signed in 2010 for collaboration in the field of atomic energy.

"We have no concerns with respect to proliferation. These concerns and issues are things of the past. I am confident that these discussions (over implementing the nuke cooperation agreement) will be concluded early," Baird, on a four-day visit to India, told journalists after his meeting with Krishna.

His remark came 38 years after Canada cried foul over India's first nuclear test in 1974. Ottawa had snapped its nuclear ties with New Delhi after the latter had allegedly used plutonium produced in a Canadian reactor installed in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay for its Pokhran-I nuclear test.

Canada had supplied the nuclear reactor CIRUS to India in mid-1950s under the Atom for Peace programme for civilian use of nuclear energy. India had procured heavy water required for the research reactor from the US.

However, after New Delhi secured a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group in 2008, Canada was the fourth country – after US, Russia and France – to ink a civil nuke cooperation agreement with India. The deal was signed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Toronto.

But both New Delhi and Ottawa made little progress in finalising the arrangements for implementation of the agreement over the past two years.

"The two governments are in the process of working out arrangements (for nuke cooperation), details of which are being negotiated. These are matters of details, which is being worked out in consultations," said Krishna, adding: "We look forward to early completion of negotiations on appropriate arrangements for the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement."

Krishna and Baird were jointly addressing a news-conference after they headed the delegations of the two countries in a dialogue, which was primarily intended to set the stage for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to India later this year.

Canadian company Cameco – the largest uranium miner of the world – has already set up a unit in India.
 
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Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are 'overstated' | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are 'overstated'

The benefits of an alternative nuclear fuel that could offer a safer and more abundant alternative to the uranium that powers conventional reactors have been "overstated", according a new government report on the potential of thorium.

The report says the UK should continue to be engaged with the technology but downplays claims by thorium proponents who say that the radioactive chemical element makes it impossible to build a bomb from nuclear waste, leaves less hazardous waste than uranium reactors, and that it runs more efficiently.

"Thorium has theoretical advantages regarding sustainability, reducing radiotoxicity and reducing proliferation risk," states the report, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). "While there is some justification for these benefits, they are often overstated."

Some of NNL's hesitance comes from UK utility companies' unwillingness to invest the money in research and development necessary to draw out thorium's advantages.

"Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that worldwide there remains interest in thorium fuel cycles and this is not likely to diminish in the near future," the report concludes. "It may therefore be judicious for the UK to maintain a low level of engagement in thorium fuel cycle research and development by involvement in international collaborative research activities."

The report notes that thorium's advantages would be most noticeable in reactor types other than the conventional solid fuel, water-cooled reactors used in almost all of the world's commercial nuclear electricity stations today.

In particular, a design known as a very high temperature reactor is "especially well suited to thorium fuels," NNL states. The old UK Atomic Energy Authority built and operated an experimental thorium-fueled high temperature at Winfrith in the 1960s and 70s. The reactor, nicknamed Dragon, is partially decommissioned.

Several thorium initiatives are under way outside the UK. In the US, Flibe Energy is developing a thorium reactor based on designs developed in the 1960s by the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

China is also developing different types of thorium reactors, and India is expected to start construction in four or five years of one that uses solid thorium fuel.

Thorium is an abundant, mildly radioactive element that occurs naturally around the world. The largest reserves exist in Australia, the US, Turkey, India, Brazil and Venezuela, according to the World Nuclear Association.
 
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SajeevJino

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India's thorium-based nuclear dream inches closer

India's thorium-based nuclear dream inches closer




Construction is finally set to begin on a reactor that will produce electricity from India's most convenient fuel for the first time.

generating 300 megawatts of power from thorium more safely than nuclear energy has ever done

Meanwhile, China has raced ahead. Not distracted by thorium, China built uranium reactors at a furious pace and its nuclear capacity now stands at three times India's, despite having only completed its first power plant in 1991

India's thorium-based nuclear dream inches closer - tech - 09 November 2012 - New Scientist
 

Abhijeet Dey

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Newly elected government led by Nawaz Sharif wants to import 1000 MW of electricity from India. Any latest news on India's AWHR reactor?
 

roma

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I had once read that we have large Thorium in the coastal sands of Rameshwaram...our Thorium stocks are so huge that we are like Arab country in Thorium...our leaders instead of buying Uranium from foreign countries should invest in Thorium based domestic nuclear reactors which will not only make us self sufficient in this field but will also save our money...even US and other foreign countries know this Indian potential and they are lobbying hard with our corrupt leaders to ignore our thorium and invest in buying uranium from them....
perhaps the thorium and uranium development departments should be given to non-corrupt leaders like antony ?
 

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Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are 'overstated' | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Benefits of thorium as alternative nuclear fuel are 'overstated'

The benefits of an alternative nuclear fuel that could offer a safer and more abundant alternative to the uranium that powers conventional reactors have been "overstated", according a new government report on the potential of thorium.

The report says the UK should continue to be engaged with the technology but downplays claims by thorium proponents who say that the radioactive chemical element makes it impossible to build a bomb from nuclear waste, leaves less hazardous waste than uranium reactors, and that it runs more efficiently.

"Thorium has theoretical advantages regarding sustainability, reducing radiotoxicity and reducing proliferation risk," states the report, prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). "While there is some justification for these benefits, they are often overstated."

Some of NNL's hesitance comes from UK utility companies' unwillingness to invest the money in research and development necessary to draw out thorium's advantages.

"Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that worldwide there remains interest in thorium fuel cycles and this is not likely to diminish in the near future," the report concludes. "It may therefore be judicious for the UK to maintain a low level of engagement in thorium fuel cycle research and development by involvement in international collaborative research activities."

The report notes that thorium's advantages would be most noticeable in reactor types other than the conventional solid fuel, water-cooled reactors used in almost all of the world's commercial nuclear electricity stations today.

In particular, a design known as a very high temperature reactor is "especially well suited to thorium fuels," NNL states. The old UK Atomic Energy Authority built and operated an experimental thorium-fueled high temperature at Winfrith in the 1960s and 70s. The reactor, nicknamed Dragon, is partially decommissioned.

Several thorium initiatives are under way outside the UK. In the US, Flibe Energy is developing a thorium reactor based on designs developed in the 1960s by the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

China is also developing different types of thorium reactors, and India is expected to start construction in four or five years of one that uses solid thorium fuel.

Thorium is an abundant, mildly radioactive element that occurs naturally around the world. The largest reserves exist in Australia, the US, Turkey, India, Brazil and Venezuela, according to the World Nuclear Association.
What this articles fails to highlight is: It would help Indian become almost self-sufficient in power generation. It's sourcing is extremely cheap for us (little mining needs) & purification costs to make it reactor-grade fuel would also get lessened eventually, as tech. advances. We are not stressing/focusing the R&D efforts enough, in this direction.
 

vishwaprasad

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We are like ARABS when it comes to THORIUM stocks... (google on rameshwaram sands)... and still we are signing nuclear deals with Canada making their economies FAT.... We INDIANS are very very GOOD in terms of NUCLEAR energy or wepaons.... Money which we have wasted in programs like LCA and ARJUN could have delivered POWER in each and every corner of India by now if we had spent that money where we are actually good at.... giving contracts to Australia Canada is nothing but generating SIDE INCOME for our corrupt leaders....
 
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What this articles fails to highlight is: It would help Indian become almost self-sufficient in power generation. It's sourcing is extremely cheap for us (little mining needs) & purification costs to make it reactor-grade fuel would also get lessened eventually, as tech. advances. We are not stressing/focusing the R&D efforts enough, in this direction.
With many reactors planned we should be beyond the research stage
 

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