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22.7.14

World’s First Thorium Reactor Designed ,India’s forward-thinking attitude has established the country as the leader in thorium reactor development. But can India put its long-term plan into reality? Now, their AHWR design is finished, taking them one big step forward.


The reactor is equipped with passive shutdown systems, core heat removal through natural circulation, emergency core coolant system (ECCS) and gravity-driven water pool (GDWP), a large tank of borated water on top of the primary containment of vessel. It can operate for 120 days without operator - that’s 4 months without anyone controlling it. And did we mention the design life: this reactor will last some 100 years.

The plan is to have a 300MW prototype in operation by 2016 and then expand thereafter. By 2050, thorium should meet 30% of India’s electricity demand.

The completion of the AHWR design is an important step towards reducing the import of fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Thorium was once commonly used as the light source in gas mantles and as an alloying material, but these applications have declined due to concerns about its radioactivity. Thorium is also used as an alloying element in nonconsumable TIG welding electrodes. It remains popular as a material in high-end optics and scientific instrumentation; thorium and uranium are the only radioactive elements with major commercial applications that do not rely on their radioactivity.

"Thorium is like wet wood […it] needs to be turned into fissile uranium just as wet wood needs to be dried in a furnace."

— Ratan Kumar Sinha, current Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.

While research is under way in many countries, only India is building utility-scale plants, mostly planned to be thorium-fueled. In 2012, the first commercial fast reactor capable of using thorium was allegedly nearing completion, according to Srikumar Banerjee, former Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.

Cadillac produced a concept vehicle in 2009 using thorium as its propulsion. The vehicle was called the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept. The vehicle affectionately became known as "the WTF".
USGS Estimates in tonnes(2011)CountryReserves India963,000 United States440,000 Australia300,000 Canada100,000 South Africa35,000 Brazil16,000 Malaysia4,500O ther Countries90,000 World Total1,913,000.

 however, using the same criteria for Brazil or India would yield reserve figures of between 600,000 to 1,300,000 tonnes for Brazil and between 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes for India. Irrespective of isolated claims by the Australian government, the most credible third-party and multi-lateral reports, those of the OECD/IAEA and the USGS, consistently report high thorium reserves for India while not doing the same for Australia.

Another estimate of reasonably assured reserves (RAR) and estimated additional reserves (EAR) of thorium comes from OECD/NEA, Nuclear Energy, "Trends in Nuclear Fuel Cycle", Paris, France (2001).

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