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Prof. V.R.Kulkarni1, Prof. B.G.Shah2
Asst. Professor and 2Asso. Professor, Department Electrical Engineering, Charotar Institute of Technology, Changa Anand, Gujarat
Introduction: As the conventional energy sources are limited in quantity, research for alternative sources is in demand. Nuclear energy is one of the alternative solutions. Presently Uranium based power is the popular method. But due to limited reserves of Uranium, need for its alternative is felt. Thorium reserves are plenty in comparison with Uranium as far as India is concerned. IAEA report mentions that India possesses two thirds (67%) of global reserves of Monazite, the primary Thorium ore and recent reports have upgraded India's Thorium deposits up from approximately 300,000 tonnes to 650,000 tonnes. India has thought of Thorium as an alternative to Uranium based nuclear power long back and is following a three stage energy program which is being run by BARC. Thorium Fuel: Thorium is present as Monazite as Thorium ore in beach sand with 8-10% of THO2 and occurs in association Uranium in rare earth elements. In India it is present in ample quantity compared to Uranium reserves. It is fertile material so used as breeding material for fissile Uranium or Plutonium to convert into fissile 233U. Thorium Nuclear Reactors in India: India has following nuclear reactors working for electricity production with Thorium fuel. Kamini reactor is a research reactor at Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research in Kalpakkam. It produces 30kW of thermal energy at full power. KAMINI is light water cooled and moderated, and fueled with 233U produced by the irradiation of Thorium in other reactors. KAMINI was the first reactor in the world designed specifically to use 233 U fuel. Kakarapar power station consists of two 220 MW pressurized water reactors with heavy water as moderator (PHWR). KAPS-1 began its commercial electricity production on 6 May 1993. KAPS-2 began its commercial production in September 1995. Both Kakrapar1 and -2 units are loaded with 500kg of Thorium fuel In January 2003 the CANDU Owners Group (COG) distinguished KAPS-1 as the worldwide best PHWR of its class. In 1950, a three stage nuclear power programme was developed by BARC and which is being run and is on going the third stage. In the first stage, Heavy water reactors using unenriched Uranium derived from India’s limited Uranium reserve, were constructed and
233U fuelled breeder reactors will have a 232Th blanket around the 233U reactor core which will generate more U233 as the reactor goes operational thus resulting in the production of more and more 233U fuel from the 232Th blanket as more of the 233U in the fuel core is consumed helping to sustain the long term power generation fuel requirement. The currently known Indian Thorium reserves amount to 358. Thorium is 4 to 5 times more compared to Uranium. The mining and extraction is also comparatively easy and the thoron life time is less compared to the radon as in case of Uranium. Benefits and back end issues of Thorium as a fuel Use of Thorium as a fuel has many advantages over Uranium usage. Reprocessing is done through closed cycle technique in view of its phased expansion of nuclear power generation for next two stages. The Thorium plutonium cycle gives less plutonium as byproduct compared to Uranium plutonium mix fuel. less management is required to prevent long term public effects. it is proposed to use Thorium-based fuel. Here. has higher radiation resistance and does not get oxidized like Uranium. The Thorium fuel cycle. Pu239 serves as the main fissile element in the FBR. Secondly Thorium is chemically more stable. Besides a blanket of 232Th around the FBR core also undergoes neutron capture reactions leading to the formation of 233 U. which burned plutonium reprocessed from the spent fuel of the heavy water reactors as well as their depleted Uranium. 233U is obtained from the nuclear transformation of 232Th used as a blanket in the second phase Pu239 fuelled FBR. Setting up 239Pu fuelled fast Breeder Reactor of 500 MWe power generation is in progress. 233U is the nuclear reactor fuel for the third stage of India’s Nuclear Power Program. it is insolvable in groundwater. has the 232U as the byproduct. breeder reactors using 233U fuel. These 233U -232Th based breeder reactors are under development and would serve as the mainstay of the final Thorium utilization stage of the Indian nuclear programme. The 232U byproduct can then be .000 GWe-year of electrical energy and can easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond. Thorium-based nuclear fuels can be used in most of the present reactors without significant change to the reactor design. Further. A blanket of 238 U surrounding the fuel core will undergo nuclear transformation to produce fresh Pu239 as more and more 239Pu is consumed during the operation. India’s vast Thorium deposits permit design and operation of 233U fuelled breeder reactors. along with a small feed of plutonium-based fuel in Advanced Heavy Water Reactors. So geothermal disposal of waste is comparatively safe. It is technically feasible to produce sustained energy output of 420 GWe from FBR. The 232 Th-233U based fuel cycles produce much lesser quantity of plutonium and long lived actinides compared to 238U-239Pu cycles. The third phase of India’s Nuclear Power Generation programme is. So less problems of radio toxicity are present.began operating. During the second stage. Besides. The main advantage is as far as India is concerned. So its interim storage can be done for longer time. half the volume is needed for the given capacity. In coastal areas the beach sand contains Monazite with 8 to 10% of ThO2. India was to construct Fast Breeder Reactors. Concurrently. Hence.
The first step is head end processing in which chemical or mechanical de cladding of irradiated fuel is done for actual chemical separation and purification through Thorex process. In second stream process. its proliferation resistance can be increased and hence use as weapon material can be restricted. Guided by Prof.htm 3. Shah.org 5. Thus. So reprocessing and recycling is to be done necessarily in heavily shielded cells which increases cost of fuel cycle activities. One stream process gives Uranium separation with Thorium as impurity and hence further process is followed for Thorium separation using Hydrochloric acid. B. References: 1. http://www. Conclusion: As far as Indian economic growth.htm 4. 2. Charotar institute Technology. But 233U has short half life and has strong gamma emitting daughter products. Thorium Reprocessing Reprocessing of spent fuel is done to isolate and separate radioactive fission products from the fertile materials and dispose off the waste materials in safe manner with the provision of interim retrieval. This gives some problems of corrosion and gassing due to HCL and decontamination due to corrosion particles.in/talks/spltalks.ernet.world–nuclear. The actinides produced in spent fuel are lesser compared to Uranium fuel. The reprocessing of spent fuel is integral part of Indian Nuclear Energy Program. So chance of significant build up of radiation dose with storage of spent Thorium based fuels is present.in/about/anu1. Again India itself is carrying out reprocessing and recycling of nuclear spent fuels.ernet. A project report on Thorium energy and India.barc. some amount of Aluminum in form of nitrate can be added to reduce this corrosive effect. energy security and independence is concerned.com . http://www. strategical deployment of Thorium based fuel generation is required to be done. So need of advanced and continuous research is present in this area. Dept of Electrical Engg. Hence. http://www.Thoriumpower. Any other alternative is not present except the Thorex process for reprocessing of spent fuel of Thorium cycle. so no need to depend on external agencies.diluted with natural Uranium during the separation process to reduce its fissionability and recycling as fuel. Next step is dissolution and solvent extraction. http://www. modification gives co-extraction of Uranium and Thorium.barc. submitted by Saumil Trivedi and Amit Yadav. G. But this amount is also to be kept in a limit otherwise it also increases the waste products. Thorium is chemically stable and hence fuel dissolution is done by adding catalyst in HNO3 to extract 233U. The presence of catalyst causes corrosion of the steel containers and piping.
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