India's Thorium based nuclear power programme

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Safe nuclear: India's thorium reactor - SmartPlanet


India's thorium reactor



One of my recurring themes on the energy blog here at SmartPlanet is that the world can have a safer nuclear future, provided the industry shifts to altogether different types of reactors and fuel.

I'm not talking about the passive cooling technologies that are bolt-ons to conventional uranium-fueled, water-cooled reactors, although those do augur safety improvements.

Rather, I'm referring to reactors that run on thorium instead of uranium fuel, and/or that depart from the water-cooled designs used in almost all of the 430+ commercial reactors operating around the globe today. They have generic names like "molten salt reactors" and "pebble bed reactors."

For the next several weeks, I'll be on the thorium trail, writing periodic updates and insights on the element - named after the Norse god of thunder - that many people believe should replace uranium as nuclear fuel. Thorium trumps uranium, they say, because it does not produce the nasty, weapons grade waste the way uranium does. And the waste is not as long-lived - about 300 years compared to tens of thousands or more for uranium. What's more, thorium is more efficient than uranium.

Like other alternative nuclear technologies, thorium is not new. In the U.S., Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a thorium-powered, molten salt nuclear reactor in the 1960s. Safe thorium reactors could have defined the nuclear power era, then in its formative years. But the Nixon administration scotched thorium in favor of weapons-friendly uranium. The Cold War was on, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union were building an atomic arsenal...

Homi J. Bhabha, known as the father of India's nuclear program, planned a thorium future. He died in a plane crash in 1966. Conspiracy theories have followed.

Enough history. For today's update, I take you to India where late last week, V Narayansamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office told the the upper house of Indian Parliament (called the Rajya Sabha) that India will indeed build a thorium reactor, according to India's Deccan Herald newspaper (my report today is a cyber journey - I was not physically in India, although my feet have been and will be taking me elsewhere on this thorium sojourn).

India will start construction around 2016-17 of a water cooled, thorium-fueled reactor that deploys "heavy water" as its coolant, the paper reports.

Narayansamy's notification to India's Parliament last week was a foregone conclusion - perhaps a formality. I noted in my November report on alternative nuclear power, published by Kachan & Co., that India will build a thorium reactor. China is also developing thorium reactors and other alternative nuclear technologies, along with advancing conventional nuclear.

The report shines a little more light on India's plans.

The Deccan Herald describes the reactor as a "research reactor" based on designs form Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, led by R K Sinha, chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission. It will use a "heavy water" coolant. Heavy water reactors - associated with Canada - use water that includes an isotope of hydrogen known as deuterium. Heavy water reactors can can make more efficient use of fuel than can standard water-cooled reactors.

Some thorium proponents, like Kirk Sorensen, co-founder of Huntsville, Ala.-based Flibe Energy, say that the best way to optimize thorium is to put it into a molten salt reactor, such as the one that Flibe is designing, based on Oak Ridge's work.

Nevertheless, thorium supporters say that thorium is safer and less weapons-prone even in a more conventional reactor design, such as in India's case.

India's thorium reactor will be 300 megawatts. That's small compared to the gigawatt-plus size of many conventional nuclear reactors. But it's large scaled compared to the capacity that renewables plants like solar or wind could provide.

And in an interview with The Guardian newspaper last November, Sinha noted that India hopes to export the technology to countries such as Kazakhastan and the Gulf states. The Guardian suggested that Vietnam is keenly interested in the Indian design, which Sinha did not confirm.

"Many countries with small power grids of up to 5,000 MW are looking for 300MW reactors," Sinha told The Guardian at the time. "Our reactors are smaller, cheaper, and very price competitive."

The November Guardian story indicated that construction would begin around 2013-14, slightly earlier than what the Deccan Herald stated last week.

India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is named after the late Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who framed a plan in the 1960s for a thorium-based nuclear future in India, a country which possesses a lot of naturally occurring thorium in its beach sands.

Thorium is common around the world. It occurs in monazite, a mineral also rich in rare earth minerals, which are in great global demand and which China currently controls - the mining of thorium thus help solve energy and rare earth issues.

Watch for more thorium postings from me, following my recent participation in a thorium committee meeting in British Parliament, and as I prepare to travel to a thorium conference in Chicago at the end of the month. I also hope to bring you a review of Richard Martin's forthcoming salute to thorium, "Superfuel," due out in June from Palgrave MacMillan.
 

Illusive

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Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready





Finally, the wait is over. The design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready.

India Today Online brings you the first look of design and prototype of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, also termed as AHWR.

It is the latest Indian design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel ore.

The design is being developed at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in Mumbai, India and aims to meet the objectives of using thorium fuel cycles for commercial power generation.

The AHWR is a vertical pressure tube type reactor cooled by boiling light water under natural circulation. The unique feature of this design is a large tank of water on top of the primary containment of vessel, called the gravity-driven water pool (GDWP). This reservoir is designed to perform several passive safety functions.

Dr R K Sinha, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, in an exclusive interview to India Today Online said, "This reactor could function without an operator for 120 days."


The AHWR is a unit that will be fueled by a mix of uranium-233 and plutonium - which will be converted from thorium by previously deployed and domestically designed fast breeder reactors.

Thorium is an element that is three times more abundant globally than uranium. As all mined thorium is potentially usable to breed reactor fuel. India's abundant reserves of thorium, constitute 25 per cent of the world's total reserves.

Earlier, India produced the world's first thorium nuclear reactor, the Kakrapar-1, in 1993, and as part of India's three-stage fuel cycle plan, a new Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) is being designed, slated for operation in 2016. The country hopes to use thorium-based reactors to meet 30 per cent of its electricity demands by 2050.

The AHWR is slated to form the third stage in India's three-stag fuel-cycle plan. It is supposed to be built starting with a 300 MW prototype in 2016. Later, the first megawatt of electricity would be be generated by 2025. "To generate a single megawatt of electricity from this world's first thorium based reactor it would take at least 7-8 years," said Dr Sinha.

Dr Sinha said, "This will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, mostly imported, and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change."

It is also said to be the most secured and safest reactor, which in future, could be set up in populated cities, like - Mumbai or Delhi, "within the city".

The latest AHWR design incorporates several passive safety features. These include: Core heat removal through natural circulation; direct injection of emergency core coolant system (ECCS) water in fuel; and the availability of a large inventory of borated water in overhead gravity-driven water pool (GDWP) to facilitate sustenance of core decay heat removal. The emergency core cooling system (ECCS) injection and containment cooling can act (SCRAM) without invoking any active systems or operator action.

The reactor also incorporates advanced technologies, together with several proven positive features of Indian pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). These features include pressure tube type design, low pressure moderator, on-power refueling, diverse fast acting shut-down systems, and availability of a large low temperature heat sink around the reactor core.

The construction on the first AHWR is scheduled to start in 2016 - though no site has yet been announced. Sources says, "nothing has decided, it could be Tarapur in Mumbai or some other location in India".


Read more at: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready : North, News - India Today
 

Abhijeet Dey

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Re: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

Some excerpts from Wikipedia.

LINK: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_India
The 17th electric power survey of India report claims:
1. Over 2010–11, India's industrial demand accounted for 35% of electrical power requirement, domestic household use accounted for 28%, agriculture 21%, commercial 9%, public lighting and other miscellaneous applications accounted for the rest.

2. The electrical energy demand for 2016–17 is expected to be at least 1392 Tera Watt Hours, with a peak electric demand of 218 GW.

3. The electrical energy demand for 2021–22 is expected to be at least 1915 Tera Watt Hours, with a peak electric demand of 298 GW.

If current average transmission and distribution average losses remain same (32%), India needs to add about 135 GW of power generation capacity, before 2017, to satisfy the projected demand after losses.

McKinsey claims that India's demand for electricity may cross 300 GW, earlier than most estimates. To explain their estimates, they point to four reasons:
1. India's manufacturing sector is likely to grow faster than in the past.
2. Domestic demand will increase more rapidly as the quality of life for more Indians improve.
3. About 125,000 villages are likely to get connected to India's electricity grid.
4. Currently blackouts and load shedding artificially suppresses demand; this demand will be sought as revenue potential by power distribution companies.

A demand of 300GW will require about 400 GW of installed capacity, McKinsey notes. The extra capacity is necessary to account for plant availability, infrastructure maintenance, spinning reserve and losses.

In 2010, electricity losses in India during transmission and distribution were about 24%, while losses because of consumer theft or billing deficiencies added another 10–15%.
 

arnabmit

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Re: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

Great news! Now stop illegal Thorium mining and start construction. :devious:

Oh, and do try to finish it and make it operational before 2050 :rolleyes:
 

The Messiah

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Re: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

This should be built in every state
 

ant80

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Re: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

This should be built in every state
Easy to say, but very impractical. The implementation of the first design of any technology will pose challenges that will have to be addressed carefully. The second implementation is always going to be more efficient than the first. Get the experience building the first reactor, and the 2nd reactor will be better, safer, more efficient and more cost effective.
 

Sea Eagle

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Some scientists from BARC did organise a seminar and here are some highlights :
After consolidating PHWR designs
from 220MW to 700MW,BARC moved
to the second stage of nuclear
program- which is to design reactors
that consume plutonium and produce
U-233
and the third stage envisages to
design reactors that consume
thorium!
this one is a prototype of AHWR(third
stage of indian reactor program)
BARC has also designed HIGH
TEMPERATURE RACTORS-600MW ,the
speciality of HTRs is that they
produce awefully lot of hydrogen!-
which can again be used as a fuel for
various things like cryogenic engines
etc
 

Sea Eagle

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Re: Design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready

Although china doesnt
have operational FBRs at the moment
but they're doing research in molten
salt type FBRs as against india's
molten sodium FBR design.
these are the reactors which BARC
have designed-
1)PHWR series(220MW,550MW,700MW)
2)FBR series -550MW(but tthey'll
expanded to 1000MW)
3)CHTR series(HIGH TEMPERATURE
REATORS,mainly for energy and
hydrogen production)-600MW(however
it'll be expanded to 1000MW in
future)
4)AHWR-300mw
 

kurup

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[tweet]565477855073931264[/tweet]

[tweet]565473389645926401[/tweet]

[tweet]565473039610314752[/tweet]
 

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