Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

It is currently Jan 18, 2018 1:02 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 100 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 7  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: May 08, 2007 7:59 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 9:18 pm
Posts: 1954
Location: Montreal
Thorium Reactors Integral To Indian Energy Independence
by Smita Prakash, Athens, Greece (ANI) May 08, 2007

Speaking to scientists and academicians at the National Centre for Scientific Research at Demokritos, Athens, on Friday, President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam said that "energy independence is India's first and highest priority." Kalam also advocated the need for using thorium reactors for the country, saying, "India has to go for nuclear power generation in a big way using thorium-based reactors. Thorium, a non fissile material is available in abundance in our country."
Kalam's recommendation assumes importance in the wake of debates taking place in India over the efficacy of thorium as opposed to uranium for the country's fast-breeder reactors. This debate has been going on within the Indian scientific fraternity for almost a decade.

Two of the country's eminent scientists -- Rahul Tongia and Dr. V.S. Arunachalam, the latter being a former Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister of India, are on record opposing the fast - breeder reactor programme (FBR) as they feel it is technically and scientifically not a viable option. Both have recommended that instead of thorium or plutonium-based FBRs, the Indian Government should opt for the building of a series of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and Light Water Reactors (LWRs) using indigenous and imported uranium. Fast Breeder Reactors, which use plutonium or thorium, are called so because they have no moderator (heavy water or light water) and breed more fuel than they consume, critics say. "Our study shows breeding is unlikely to occur at anywhere near the rates envisioned, leading to a very slow growth of fast breeder reactors (in India). In addition, domestic uranium reserves restrict the growth of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, which are likely to be the main contributors to nuclear capacity in the short term," said both Tongia and Dr.Arunachalam in an article that appears in one of the issues of Current Science.

"The thorium-uranium 233 cycle in fast breeders does not appear attractive, and for the uranium 238-plutonium cycle, only metallic fuel offers hope of a relatively fast doubling and reprocessing time. To increase the share of nuclear power in the coming decades, India should consider the construction of a number of large thermal reactors based on indigenous and imported uranium and also the design, development and validation of reactors that operate with thorium-plutonium fuels," they add. Dr. Homi. J. Bhabha, the founder of India's nuclear power programme, envisaged a three-stage approach to nuclear electricity generation. In the first stage, PHWRs would use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant. When natural uranium is used as fuel in PHWRs, plutonium 239 is a byproduct.

The aim of reprocessing is to separate plutonimum 239 and the left-over uranium from the fission products. Plutonium 239 and initially the left-over uranium, and subsequently thorium kept in blanket form, will fuel fast breeder reactors, which will form the second stage of India's nuclear electricity programme. Thorium used in FBRs gets converted into uranium 233, a fissile material. In the third stage, breeder reactors will use uranium 233 as fuel and thorium in blanket form to generate electricity. A small step towards the third-stage programme was taken when the Kamini experimental reactor at Kalpakkam attained criticality in October 1996, using uranium 233 and thorium. Dr. Bhabha envisaged this three-stage programme because natural uranium reserves in India were limited, whereas there were vast reserves of thorium.

Since breeders breed more uranium 233 than they consume, it is estimated that 500,000 MWe (500 GWe; 1 gigawatt is 1,000 megawatt) of electricity can be generated from the third stage for at least four centuries. Kalam's recommendation for the use of thorium also brought into focus the controversy surrounding the 123 agreement between the United States and India.

The 123 Agreement signed in July 2005 opens the way for the US and India to share nuclear know-how, but critics in Washington say the deal is hypocritical and could spark a new arms race, while opponents in New Delhi say it threatens India's sovereignty.

The India Nuclear Cooperation Promotion Act, also known as the 123 Agreement, will allow the US to share nuclear know-how and fuel with India to help power its economy. This, despite the fact that India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is based on the premise that only those who renounced nuclear weapons should benefit from civilian nuclear trade and assistance.

Some believe that the 123 Agreement will not move India toward signing on to the NPT. Before trading in nuclear energy can begin, an overall cooperation plan must still be agreed upon between the United States and India and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) must amend its rules to allow the exchange.

The NSG was founded in 1975 in response to a nuclear test by India a year earlier.

Kalam said that India is determined to achieve energy independence by the year 2030 and for this "India has to go for nuclear power generation in a big way using thorium based reactors." He acknowledged that "Energy independence throws very important technological challenges to the entire world."

Since he was in the midst of scientists, Kalam shared some research areas where Greece and India could work together. These include energy sector using solar energy, proteomics which is the study of proteins expressed by the genome of a cell, prevention and research on HIV, stem cell research, disaster management and forecasting on earthquakes and global monsoon research.

The President also touched upon his favorite topic of nanoscience and technology. He said "The next ten years will see nano-technology playing the most dominant role in the global business environment and is expected to reach one trillion dollars." He said that there was scope of India and Greece working jointly for at least ten nano technology products in water, energy, agriculture, healthcare, space and defence and ICT sectors. Kalam invited private and public industries from Greece and India should work together for faster design, development and production of products for the world market. (ANI)

Source: ANI Copyright 2007


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 06, 2007 10:41 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3381
Location: Alabama
More discussion about nuclear energy, thorium, reprocessing, and the US/Indian relationship...

Last-minute hitch over US-India deal

...this is very interesting...they're fighting over nuclear independence and thorium.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 06, 2007 1:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 9:18 pm
Posts: 1954
Location: Montreal
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
...this is very interesting...

What's interesting about this article is the language.

On one side, we are told there is this great guy who is "a physicist and independent energy expert," while on the other side are these characters called "India's hardline nuclear scientist-engineers' lobby."

Why should we believe anything the evil lobby has to say, against the expert's enlightened pronouncements ?

This "expert" is quoted as saying that "Even the 'second-stage' fast-breeder has proved a failure, not just in India, but also in France, which invested heavily in that technology."

But one could argue that the people who operated France's 1,250 MWe fast-breeder at Creys-Maleville knew at least as well as this Indian expert, whether the reactor was a failure or a success.
According to them, and the record of power production in the last few years of operation, it was a great success.

Unfortunately, there was also a success by the antinuke Greens in making a political deal with the minority Socialist government, to shut down the reactor, regardless of any technical considerations.

However, France has recently committed to resuming its fast-breeder program, no doubt based on past technical success.

The fact that this additional information was omitted from the Asia Times article - leaving the Indian "expert's" false statement unchallenged - tells me something about the highly unethical and irresponsible journalistic practices of both the author and his employer.

.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 06, 2007 2:19 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3381
Location: Alabama
I'm coming around more and more to the basic "goodness" of the three-phase Indian plan for nuclear energy:

  1. Burn natural uranium in heavy-water moderated reactors.
  2. Extract plutonium produced in step 1 and burn it in a fast-spectrum reactor with a thorium blanket.
  3. Extract U-233 produced in step 2 (from thorium) and burn thorium in breakeven-breeder thermal-spectrum reactors.

My disagreement lies in the choice of reactors used to accomplish steps 1, 2, and 3. They should certainly be using fluoride reactors in step 3 instead of solid-core reactors. They should probably be using chloride reactors in step 2 instead of sodium-cooled fast breeders.

(and they might even be able to use fluoride reactors with heavy-water moderation for step 1!)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 8:47 am 
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
They should probably be using chloride reactors in step 2 instead of sodium-cooled fast breeders.


what is the point here? India has experience with liquid sodium and the design of the prototype FBR is in advanced stages. What is to be gained by switching to a new technology?

Quote:
(and they might even be able to use fluoride reactors with heavy-water moderation for step 1!)


Again, what is the point of switching technologies from one that works to one that needs to be developed?


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 9:00 am 
jaro wrote:
The fact that this additional information was omitted from the Asia Times article - leaving the Indian "expert's" false statement unchallenged - tells me something about the highly unethical and irresponsible journalistic practices of both the author and his employer.


Asia Times is generally good -- Bidwai is notorious for not letting facts get in the way of his communist rants.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 3:30 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3381
Location: Alabama
Arok_N wrote:
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
They should probably be using chloride reactors in step 2 instead of sodium-cooled fast breeders.


what is the point here? India has experience with liquid sodium and the design of the prototype FBR is in advanced stages. What is to be gained by switching to a new technology?


There would be a lot gained in going to a chloride reactor rather than a solid-core, sodium-cooled fast breeder.

Number one is safety. You can achieve very strong negative temperature coefficients and passive decay heat removal in a chloride reactors--big improvements over solid-core sodium-cooled. Also no danger of a chemical reaction between your coolant and air and water.

Number two is ease of reprocessing and versatility. One of the basic principles of reprocessing is that you have to turn solid fuel into a liquid before beginning chemical separations. Then at the end you have to turn things back into solids again. With a liquid fuel you could imagine reprocessing schemes that proceed directly to a reactor fuel feed. Also you can adjust the fuel levels during operation and add fuel online.

Just because the whole world has been working on sodium-cooled fast breeders for the last fifty years (without commercial success) doesn't make them any less of a dumb idea. It's time to try something inherently better.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 4:43 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 9:18 pm
Posts: 1954
Location: Montreal
I have to agree with Kirk that chloride fast reactors should be tried, for all the good reasons he has listed.

The fact remains that they haven't been tried yet, whereas sodium-cooled and lead-cooled solid fuel fast reactors have.

So at least there is a fall-back position, in case it turns out that for some strange reason, chloride fast reactors aren't practical.

Why haven't fluid fuel fast reactors been tried yet ?
I suspect its the same reason why nobody is building thermal molten salt reactors -- everyone (especially regulatory agencies) believes that solid fuel reactors are safer, because the solid ceramic fuel pellets represent a first containment barrier for fission products.

There is of course a whole series of other containment barriers, but to anyone familiar with solid fuel reactors, a switch from solid to fluid fuel represents an obvious deletion of one important barrier ("....and don't bother me with technical facts, my mind is already made up")

.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 9:47 pm 
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Just because the whole world has been working on sodium-cooled fast breeders for the last fifty years (without commercial success) doesn't make them any less of a dumb idea. It's time to try something inherently better.


Please take a look at the highlighted phrases. How much are you aware of India's program? What do you know about the dynamics of commerce in India? How do you parse "inherently" when dealing with a country that is facing hypocrisy from the "whole world"?

You seem to live in a bubble. India's FBR program will succeed on its own. India had a hard time importing berrylium because of hypocrisy of nuclear powers -- why would they go for your idea of Be in the mix? Try to get out of your American shoes and think differently.

Cheers.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 9:51 pm 
jaro wrote:
There is of course a whole series of other containment barriers, but to anyone familiar with solid fuel reactors, a switch from solid to fluid fuel represents an obvious deletion of one important barrier ("....and don't bother me with technical facts, my mind is already made up")


Please try to read literally hundreds of publications on the BARC archive server. Your concept of "technical details" may be plebian for those involved in actual day-to-day implementation of India's nuclear program in the face of hypocritical hostility by other nations.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 10, 2007 9:56 pm 
One more thing, Kirk.

Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Number two is ease of reprocessing and versatility. One of the basic principles of reprocessing is that you have to turn solid fuel into a liquid before beginning chemical separations. Then at the end you have to turn things back into solids again. With a liquid fuel you could imagine reprocessing schemes that proceed directly to a reactor fuel feed. Also you can adjust the fuel levels during operation and add fuel online.


When speaking of "ease", please compare the average wage of workers versus the cost of machinery. These are country specific concepts. In India, "reprocessing" carried out "one beaker at a time" is cheaper than any machine you can imagine. Just kidding, but you get the idea.

India is very advanced in reprocessing technologies that have been developed in the context of Indian economy. Please read up on the entire Carbide Fuel episode -- they pulled off something that the western establishment had deemed "impractical".


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 11, 2007 6:52 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3381
Location: Alabama
Arok_N wrote:
Please read up on the entire Carbide Fuel episode -- they pulled off something that the western establishment had deemed "impractical".


Why don't you point me to the best paper on this subject so I can "read up".

I can't tell if you're praising India or insulting it from your posts.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 11, 2007 8:40 am 
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Why don't you point me to the best paper on this subject so I can "read up".


I have prepared a partial list which takes you through history, starting from 1970:

BARC/I-61, Literature Survey on Plutonium Bearing Carbide Fuels. Properties and Potentials of Uranium-Plutonium Carbides as Fast Reactor Fuels - A Review,B.D. Zope,1970

Trans. Power Metallurgy Assoc. India, 1978, Vol. 5, p28-36, C. Ganguly, Preparation of Carbide Powders for Nuclear Reactor Fuels

Proc. Symp. Sintering Sintered Prod., 1979, p423-41, C. Ganguly, Powder Metallurgy in the Fabrication of (Uranium-Plutonium) Carbide, (Uranium-Plutonium) Nitride, and (Uranium-Plutonium) Carbonitride Fuels for Fast Breeder Reactors

Fast Reactor Fuel Cycles, Proc. Int. Conf., 1981, p181-8, C. Ganguly, Fabrication of Advanced LMFBR Fuels at BARC Fast Reactor Fuel Cycles, Proc. Int. Conf., 1981, p233-6, B. Singh, Optimization of Fuel Pin Diameter for Oxide and Carbide Fuels for a Medium Sized Fast Breeder Reactor

Proc. of DAE Symp. on Radiochemistry and Radiation Chemistry, 1985, G.C. Jain, Process Control Analysis in Mixed Carbide Fuel Pellets

Journal of Nuclear Material, 1988, Vol. 153, p177-88, C. Ganguly, The Role of Process Control and Inspection Steps in the Quality Assurance of SS316 Clad Mixed Plutonium-Uranium Carbide Fuel Pins for FBTR

Trans. Indian Ceramic Society, 1988, Vol. 47, p16-71, C. Ganguly, Advanced Methods for the Fabrication of Mixed Uranium-Plutonium Oxide, Monocarbide, and Mononitride Fuels for Fast Breeder Reactors

Material Science Forum, 1989, Vol. 48, p153-73, C. Ganguly, Fabrication of Mixed Uranium-Plutonium Monocarbide and Mononitride Fuels for FBTR and PFBR

Trans. Powder Metallurgy Assoc. India, 1990, Vol. 17, p43-8, C. Ganguly, Sol-Gel Microsphere-Pellitization Process for Preparation of Uranium Monocarbide and Uranium Mononitride Pellets

5th International Union of Materials Research Societies International Conference, Bagalore, India, 1998, P. Rodriquez, Mixed Plutonium-Uranium Carbide Fuel in Fast Breeder Test Reactor

Bulletin of Materials Science, 1999, Vol. 22, p215-20, P. Rodriquez, Mixed Plutonium-Uranium Carbide Fuel in Fast Breeder Test Reactor

--------------

This is a long list, and you may not be able to find everything online. Feel free to skim a few of the papers. Also, this list does not cover all reprocessing -- it is not Thorium specific, rather Carbide/Nitride specific.

Recall that the point is about reprocessing expertise and experience -- I am certainly praising India.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 11, 2007 8:45 am 
Milestones: http://www.dae.gov.in/milestone.htm

Quote:
1984 : Plutonium - Uranium mixed Carbide Fuel for Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) is fabricated at Trombay.

2003 : 1.7 MeV Tandetron Accelerator and the demo facility Lead Mini Cell (LMC), for reprocessing of FBTR carbide fuel on lab scale, are commissioned at IGCAR.




·


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jun 11, 2007 7:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mar 07, 2007 11:02 am
Posts: 914
Location: Ottawa
Just a quick point. If many of us feel that an Indian sodium cooled fast reactor is not a good idea, it is not because we doubt India`s technical ability. The fact is that many countries, in particular France, U.S.A and Russia, have spent probably hundreds of billions of dollars trying to make sodium fast breeders practical over the past 6 decades with very limited success.

Many in the field still feel sodium cooled fast reactors are a big part of the nuclear energy future and I`m sure they will be cheering for success in any Indian endeavor. Many of us however have never been fans of sodium fast reactors for a wide range of reasons involving safety, economics and proliferation concerns.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 100 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 7  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group