India leading the race for the thorium fuel

India leading the race for the thorium fuel

India has 22 reactors in operation, producing 6680 MW of electricity. It is 3% of the total electricity produced in the country. The Atomic Energy Commission has set a target to increase the contribution of nuclear power to 9% of the total electricity generated in the country by 2032. The  process of establishing 10 more nuclear power plants in the country is in progress, but India faces the issue of the nuclear fuel and its dependence to foreign suppliers.

Kalpakkam Scientists who master the nuclear technology are developing the technology to generate power from thorium rather than uranium. Success in this endeavor will completely change the landscape of clean energy production in India and worldwide.

Arun Kumar Bhaduri, director of the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, declared that technology with thorium fuel in nuclear reactors will ensure clean energy supply in the country for next several hundred years.  The center hope to industrialize the technology between 2050-2060.

At present, Uranium-235 is being used as raw material in Indian nuclear power plants. However, given the limited quantity of the country and international barriers to imports, nuclear scientists are looking for alternatives to reduce dependence and thorium is a better option. Not only India has very large reserve of  Thorium but it is also number one producer in the world. Scientists want to take advantage of this situation.


Fast Breeders for plutonium

Ravi Satyanarayana, director of Madras Atomic Power Station, said that only 0.7 percent of the uranium fuel is actually used in a plant. The remaining 99.3 percent can be converted in plutonium and reused in Fast Breeder Reactors. Kalpakkam’s Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) is currently translating uranium into plutonium.

However the ultimate goal of Indian scientists is to replace nuclear energy with Thorium instead of Uranium as it will not only eliminate foreign dependence but also ensure clean energy supply in the long run. Bhaduri said that work has started so that it can be used as fuel for the second phase of reactors.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.