India Builds Thorium Nuclear Reactor

    The Indian government has given permission to begin construction of a 300 MW pilot thorium reactor , the first thorium reactor in the world. Stations of this type are considered so safe that they can be built directly in the city, although the experimental reactor will still be built away from the city (now they are chosen from two sites).

    The design of the AHWR reactor (advanced heavy water reactor) is an advanced version of a heavy-water nuclear reactor using a channel architecture, as well as ordinary water as a coolant. The retarder (heavy water D 2 O) is located in separate channels from the coolant under reduced pressure.

    A feature of the Indian reactor is the large water tanks that are on top of the entire structure and perform passive safety functions, that is, they can cool the reactor in case of an accident.

    The project is being developed by the Nuclear Energy Research Center named after Women in Mumbai. For more information on reactor design, see “Design and development of the AHWR-the Indian thorium fuelled innovative nuclear reactor” (Nuclear Engineering and Design, Volume 236, Issue 7-8, April 2006, Pages 683-700).

    The construction of the reactor was included in the plan for the 12th five-year plan, which ends in 2016. In the future, India can build such reactors in all major cities. Adherents of a new type of fuelWe are convinced that thorium nuclear power plants are safer than ordinary uranium. Another advantage of thorium is its high prevalence. The Earth’s crust has three times more thorium than uranium, and almost all of the material mined (thorium-232) can be adapted for use as nuclear fuel (uranium-233). For example, in the same India, thorium reserves are estimated at 290 thousand tons, this is the second place after Australia (300 thousand tons). Deposits of thorium-containing monazite ((Ce, La, Nd, Th) PO 4 ) are also found in many other countries that have never been considered suppliers of nuclear fuel. For example, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa.

    Black Sands on the beach of Mariupol (Ukraine) containing monazite

    Unfortunately, Russia is not among the world leaders in thorium reserves, but enough of this material is also mined in Russian deposits to transfer all power units of Russia and the former CMEA countries to the thorium cycle. Moreover, in the warehouses of the state enterprise “Uralmonatsit” 12 km north-east of the city of Krasnoufimsk (Sverdlovsk Region) near the Zyurz station for almost 50 years, 82,000 tons of monazite concentrate have been stored, which was collected in the fields of Mongolia 50 years ago, China and Vietnam, suggesting use in nuclear power plants. Given this warehouse, Russia is already among the world leaders in thorium reserves.

    Startups periodically appear in the West who are trying to find financing for the construction of thorium nuclear power plants. For example, the new Transatomic Power company recently announced itself, which intends to build WAMSR-type reactors (Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor) using molten salt as an energy source and retaining 98% of the heat generated by the thorium reactor.

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