Will Thorium Based Nuclear Reactor Change the Future of Nuclear Energy in India?

India has world’s one forth of thorium reserves, the highest Thorium reserves in the World

Homi Bhaba had a vision, he wanted India to utilize its most abundant thorium reserves and wanted to replace uranium as nuclear fuel with thorium, India over the recent years has published most international research papers on thorium nuclear energy generation and is now developing 62 nuclear power plants mostly based on thorium and aims to generate 500 G We (Giga Watts) of energy for next 400 years

Currently India generates only 2% of its electricity by nuclear energy and all nuclear power plants are based on uranium which is very expensive, India has to import most of the uranium from Russia, Kazakhstan, France and Uzbekistan and now after an Indo-US deal it will get some from USA

Disadvantages of Uranium Based Nuclear Power Plant

In Uranium based power plants, nuclear fission reaction generates energy which is transferred to water and then water is converted into steam, this steam needs to be at high pressure, therefore the nuclear fission chamber works at high pressure of 70 bars and produces steam, this steam is expanded over the turbines which is connected to the generators, thus electricity is generated, water also acts as coolant and control for nuclear reaction, the Uranium based reactors are very sophisticated devices which have many control systems to control the nuclear chain reaction of uranium

Uranium chain reactions can go uncontrolled therefore they need constant control and monitoring

Uranium based power plants have major disadvantage because water is at high pressure with nuclear fuel and any uncontrolled action may lead to events like Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster; Chernobyl, 1986 (Now, in Ukraine, was part and operated by USSR) which released large amount of nuclear fuel into the atmosphere, resulting lot of damage to the enviournment and to human generations and another was Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster of 2011, in Japan caused by Tsunami, which resulted from coolant supply failure caused by shutting down of external power generators in Tsunami

Advantages of Thorium Based Nuclear Power Plants

Thorium chain reactions are not self propagating, therefore they can never go uncontrolled like uranium, and also the nuclear chamber is not a pressure vessel, the working fluid for the chamber is molten Fluoride or Sodium Salt which is heated up to 400C and then sent to heat exchange to transfer its energy to water to convert it into steam, which is then used to expand in turbines connected with generators to generate electricity

Therefore thorium based reactors has inherent safety, and they can located near cities like New Delhi and Mumbai

Thorium waste becomes stable in less than 300 years unlike the uranium waste which exists for tens and thousands of years

Thorium waste cannot be used to create nuclear weapons but uranium wasted is used to create nuclear weapon

Why world didn’t utilized thorium based reactors and kept its focus on uranium based reactors?

Uranium and Thorium both had competition as nuclear fuel in power plants, uranium won because it was found by US scientist and US Government that the by product waste can be used to create nuclear weapons therefore their intensions made them to switch to Uranium

But since Uranium is very rare and thorium is abundant and the world is energy hungry therefore we are now developing thorium based reactors

So if India is able to create thorium based power plants in time with sufficient government will and investments, then nuclear energy can play a vital role in the development of our country

Thorium nuclear energy is millions times greater than Carbon Hydrogen bond and it is abundant, we can use nuclear energy to burn Carbon Di Oxide from the nature and can convert it into methanol, ethanol and other hydrocarbons and we can use them as a fuel to power automobiles thus we can balance the Carbon levels of the World

Therefore thorium based nuclear energy will play a vital role in the development of our country; if utilized on time, scientist and engineers are doing lot of work and now it is required to have a political will so that we can invest more in nuclear energy which will help us to utilize the abundant thorium resource

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