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Nuclear Power Programme: Stage-III

Thorium based React Reactors

Thorium utilisation is the long-term core objective of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme for providing energy security on sustainable basis. The third stage of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme is based on the Thorium-Uranium- 233 cycle. A beginning has already been made by introducing thorium in a limited way, in research reactors and in pressurised heavy water reactors. The research reactor KAMINI, operating upto a nominal power of 30 kW for neutron radiography of various materials, at Kalpakkam, uses Uranium-233 fuel is derived from thorium. This fuel is bred, reprocessed and fabricated indigenously.

BARC is engaged in developing 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). This endeavour aims at developing expertise for thorium utilisation and demonstrating advanced safety concepts. Mixed Thoria-Urania and Thoria-Plutonia are the candidate fuels for the AHWR. The fuel pellets have been successfully fabricated by the conventional powder metallurgy route. The design of this reactor incorporates several advanced safety features. The overall physics design including core configuration has been completed. A critical facility for validation of physics calculations pertaining to core design is being set up at BARC.

Design and development of high temperature reactor system including Compact High Temperature Reactor, Nuclear Power Pack and High Temperature Reactor for Hydrogen Generation mainly for process heat and non-grid based electricity generation applications are also containing at Trombay. A Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR), with 100kW thermal power rating, being developed here, will be used for electricity generation in remote places, production of alternative transportation fuel such as hydrogen, and refinement of low-grade coal, etc.

For breeding fissile Uranium-233 from Thorium, development of Accelerator Driven Sub-Critical Systems (ADS) for nuclear reactor is the latest addition to the Indian nuclear programme. ADS can provide a strong technology base for large scale thorium utilisation. This endeavour offers promise of incineration of long lived actinides and fission products, thereby reducing the technical complexities of storage of long-life high level radioactive wastes. As a first step towards realisation of ADS, DAE has launched development of proton injector. To carry out experimental studies on sub-critical assemblies, a 14 MeV neutron generator has also upgraded with a higher current ion source.

For the separation of Uranium-233 from irradiated Thorium fuel on a plant scale, a Uranium-Thorium Separation Facility is in operation at Trombay.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011