Thorium - Securing the resources  Hari Tulsidas Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Section
Thorium – the future of energy <ul><li>Advantages, challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Past experience, the downturn </li></ul><u...
Bunch of advantages <ul><li>Large  resources  of thorium </li></ul><ul><li>Self sustained  equilibrium thorium fuel cycle ...
Resistance to proliferation <ul><li>Difficulties in  reprocessing  of chemically stable thoria. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy  de...
Some challenges too …  <ul><li>Needs  fissile material  to start with </li></ul><ul><li>Fuel cycle infrastructure to be de...
Th utilization – Past experience (1) <ul><li>Studied for about 40 years in  Germany, USA, UK, Netherlands and India .   </...
Th utilization – Past experience (2)  <ul><li>1967 – 1988: AVR, Germany (18 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1964 – 1973: Dragon, UK...
The downturn <ul><li>All major projects using Th in their fuel cycles had been terminated by the late 1980s.  </li></ul><u...
Hunger for energy Population growth Energy poverty Source: World Energy Outlook 2010
Concern for environment
Looming waste problem (1) World cumulative spent fuel discharge by 2030
Looming waste problem (2) Reuse# 4 workshop, AECL, Canada 15-16Nov. 2010
World distribution of uranium resources   IAEA   / OECD NEA  Uranium 2009: Resources, Production and Demand Others   1 079...
Uranium supply balance WNA Global Nuclear Fuel Market 2007-2030
Peak Uranium ? Projected U production in Australia 2020 2022
Rethinking thorium <ul><li>HTGR: GT-MHR  by General Atomics </li></ul><ul><li>THTR in China </li></ul><ul><li>Radkowsky Th...
Th action in India <ul><li>Long-term nuclear fuel cycle to utilise its abundant thorium resources in three stages: </li></...
International cooperation <ul><li>IAEA-International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles ( INPRO)  32 m...
More details … <ul><li>Thorium Fuel Cycle – Potential Benefits and Challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Current information ba...
Integrated Nuclear Fuel Cycle Information System Initially based  on the Agency’s electronic databases created in 1980s We...
Thorium resources <ul><li>Natural Th is a relatively abundant element with an av of  7.2 ppm  in the earth’s crust, compar...
Current Th Exploration <ul><li>Th Exploration (USGS - 2007) continues in  Canada, India and the USA. </li></ul><ul><li>Ind...
Thorium Resources Data based on Red Book 2009 & ThDEPO 2010
Major Th deposit types and resources ‘ Red Book’ 2009 6 078 000 Total 4 258 000 Other 18 1 120 000 Alkaline rocks 21 1 300...
ThDEPO status
Th resources publications 2009 USA 2009 2001 India Australia
Th resources issues <ul><li>Present practice of  diluting and dispersing  Th minerals </li></ul><ul><li>Sea level rise  an...
ThDEPO planned activities <ul><li>Collect all the  available resources data  from published sources / unpublished reports ...
Next … <ul><li>IAEA Technical Meeting on   </li></ul><ul><li>World Thorium Resources </li></ul>17 – 21 October 2011 Thiruv...
You can reach me at … Thank you Harikrishnan Tulsidas Nuclear Technology Specialist Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Secti...
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Thorium - Securing the resources

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Thorium - Securing the resources

  1. 1. Thorium - Securing the resources Hari Tulsidas Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Section
  2. 2. Thorium – the future of energy <ul><li>Advantages, challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Past experience, the downturn </li></ul><ul><li>Present hunger for energy, climatic concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Booming nuclear waste issues </li></ul><ul><li>How long with uranium resources last? </li></ul><ul><li>Renewed interest in thorium </li></ul><ul><li>IAEA activities in Th fuel cycle </li></ul><ul><li>ThDEPO </li></ul><ul><li>Planned activities </li></ul>
  3. 3. Bunch of advantages <ul><li>Large resources of thorium </li></ul><ul><li>Self sustained equilibrium thorium fuel cycle </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic proliferation resistance </li></ul><ul><li>Better thermo-physical properties and chemical stability </li></ul><ul><li>High burn – up capability </li></ul><ul><li>Lesser long lived minor actinides </li></ul><ul><li>Superior plutonium incineration </li></ul><ul><li>Attractive in accelerated driven systems and energy amplifiers </li></ul>
  4. 4. Resistance to proliferation <ul><li>Difficulties in reprocessing of chemically stable thoria. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy detection of gamma activity </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of plutonium produced unattractive for weapons </li></ul><ul><li>Improved burn-up increases the fuel cycle length, safeguarding the fissile material in the reactor itself </li></ul>
  5. 5. Some challenges too … <ul><li>Needs fissile material to start with </li></ul><ul><li>Fuel cycle infrastructure to be developed - mining, milling, fuel fabrication, transport and reprocessing </li></ul><ul><li>Re-cycling of U 233 requires automated and remote fuel fabrication and handling in adequately shielded facility </li></ul><ul><li>Reprocessing of Th fuels is not yet established </li></ul><ul><li>Large investment for Th fuel development, qualification and characterization </li></ul>
  6. 6. Th utilization – Past experience (1) <ul><li>Studied for about 40 years in Germany, USA, UK, Netherlands and India . </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial scale Th fuelled reactors in Germany, USA in 1970s & 80s. </li></ul><ul><li>Test reactor irradiation of thorium fuel to high burnups </li></ul><ul><li>Several test reactors - partially or completely loaded with thorium-based fuel. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Th utilization – Past experience (2) <ul><li>1967 – 1988: AVR, Germany (18 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1964 – 1973: Dragon, UK (20 MWt) </li></ul><ul><li>1962 – 1980: Indian Point, USA (285 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1964 – 1969: MSRE ORNL, USA (7.5 MWt) </li></ul><ul><li>1963 – 1968: Borax IV & Elk River (2,4 – 24 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1967 – 1974: Peach Bottom, USA (40 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1976 – 1989: Fort St Vtain, USA (330 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1977 – 1982: Shippingport, USA (100 MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1960s – present: 3 RR and NPD, Canada </li></ul><ul><li>1974 - 1977: SUSPOP/KSTR KEMA, Netherlands (1 MWt) </li></ul><ul><li>1983 – 1989: THTR, Germany (300MWe) </li></ul><ul><li>1980s : Cirus & Dhruva, India (30 kWt & 40 MWt) </li></ul><ul><li>1985 – present: FBTR, India (40 MWt) </li></ul><ul><li>1996 – present: Kamini, India (30kWt) </li></ul>
  8. 8. The downturn <ul><li>All major projects using Th in their fuel cycles had been terminated by the late 1980s. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could not compete economically </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of political support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concern regarding proliferation risks </li></ul></ul>Chernobyl Cheap Oil Proliferation
  9. 9. Hunger for energy Population growth Energy poverty Source: World Energy Outlook 2010
  10. 10. Concern for environment
  11. 11. Looming waste problem (1) World cumulative spent fuel discharge by 2030
  12. 12. Looming waste problem (2) Reuse# 4 workshop, AECL, Canada 15-16Nov. 2010
  13. 13. World distribution of uranium resources IAEA / OECD NEA Uranium 2009: Resources, Production and Demand Others 1 079 000 17% Total 6 306 000 100% iNFCIS - UDEPO Data of 1 323 uranium deposits from 75 countries http://www-nfcis.iaea.org Total 20 314 645 tU tU Red Book 2009 Undiscovered Resources: 7 495 500 tU Recoverable Resources Identified < $260 Total Resources Identified 4.3% 275 500       Niger 4.4% 278 700       Brazil 4.5% 284 200       Namibia 4.6% 295 600       South Africa 7.5% 472 100       United States 8.6% 544 000       Canada 9.0% 565 000       Russia 13.2% 832 000       Kazakhstan 26.6% 1 679 000       Australia
  14. 14. Uranium supply balance WNA Global Nuclear Fuel Market 2007-2030
  15. 15. Peak Uranium ? Projected U production in Australia 2020 2022
  16. 16. Rethinking thorium <ul><li>HTGR: GT-MHR by General Atomics </li></ul><ul><li>THTR in China </li></ul><ul><li>Radkowsky Thorium Reactor: LWBR in USA </li></ul><ul><li>MSR/LFTR – Japan, Russia, France, USA – GIF </li></ul><ul><li>CANDU - ACR - Canada and China </li></ul><ul><li>VVERs -Thorium Power (Lightbridge) </li></ul><ul><li>EPR – France / Lightbridge </li></ul>
  17. 17. Th action in India <ul><li>Long-term nuclear fuel cycle to utilise its abundant thorium resources in three stages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 1 - Plutonium is produced in PHWRs fuelled by natural uranium and in LWRs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 2 - In FBRs plutonium is burned to breed U233 from thorium and plutonium from the uranium. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Currently a research reactor uses 233 U obtained from a test FBR. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prototype FBR (500 MWe) to be commissioned in 2012 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Four commercial FBRs (500 MWe each) by 2020. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stage 3 - Advanced Heavy Water Reactors (AHWRs) burn the U233 and plutonium with thorium to derive about two thirds of the power from thorium. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One 300 MWe AHWR to be operational by 2020. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. International cooperation <ul><li>IAEA-International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles ( INPRO) 32 members </li></ul><ul><li>IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Comparative assessments of thorium based fuel cycle concepts to be initiated in 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Generation IV International Forum – GIF: Th will be the reference fuel cycle for some of the Gen-IV SCWR concepts and MSR </li></ul><ul><li>International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation - IFNEC </li></ul>
  19. 19. More details … <ul><li>Thorium Fuel Cycle – Potential Benefits and Challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Current information base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Front end / back end issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proliferation resistance issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Economic aspects </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Integrated Nuclear Fuel Cycle Information System Initially based on the Agency’s electronic databases created in 1980s Web based system with public access since 2001 ThDEPO project started in 2010 http://www-nfcis.iaea.org NFCIS UDEPO PIE NFCSS MADB ThDEPO New To be published soon!
  21. 21. Thorium resources <ul><li>Natural Th is a relatively abundant element with an av of 7.2 ppm in the earth’s crust, compared to 2.5 - 3 ppm of U. </li></ul><ul><li>This does not mean at all that the exploitable reserves of thorium are 2-3 times larger than U </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive exploration for thorium has not been conducted </li></ul><ul><li>Red Book stopped reporting Th since 1981. </li></ul><ul><li>A reliable estimation of the world-wide reserves of thorium is not currently available. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Current Th Exploration <ul><li>Th Exploration (USGS - 2007) continues in Canada, India and the USA. </li></ul><ul><li>India – 846 tTh resources: Stockpile: ~30 000 t thorium concentrate. </li></ul><ul><li>USA - Th exploration in Lemhi Pass area </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monazite last produced in 1994 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expected to resume in soon (Florida) ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reassessment of resources in Australia, Brazil, USA & India. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Thorium Resources Data based on Red Book 2009 & ThDEPO 2010
  24. 24. Major Th deposit types and resources ‘ Red Book’ 2009 6 078 000 Total 4 258 000 Other 18 1 120 000 Alkaline rocks 21 1 300 000 Vein-type 25 1 500 000 Placer 31 1 900 000 Carbonatite Percentage Resources (t Th) Deposit type
  25. 25. ThDEPO status
  26. 26. Th resources publications 2009 USA 2009 2001 India Australia
  27. 27. Th resources issues <ul><li>Present practice of diluting and dispersing Th minerals </li></ul><ul><li>Sea level rise and land loss – impact on coastal resources? </li></ul><ul><li>Social acceptability of mining in coastal areas ? </li></ul><ul><li>Economics of hard rock Th mining ? </li></ul>
  28. 28. ThDEPO planned activities <ul><li>Collect all the available resources data from published sources / unpublished reports </li></ul><ul><li>Critically evaluate and publish data in ThDEPO </li></ul><ul><li>Preserve the fast disappearing knowledge base on Th reserves. </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight gaps in knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify issues in development of Th resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify associated work that should be carried our – CRPs, Tech Documents, Meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Promote International Cooperation in Th resources development. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Next … <ul><li>IAEA Technical Meeting on </li></ul><ul><li>World Thorium Resources </li></ul>17 – 21 October 2011 Thiruvanatapuram, India Thorium geology, mineralization Exploration case histories Resource evaluation Production, feasibility and economics Extraction technologies Safety, environmental and social licensing Field visits
  30. 30. You can reach me at … Thank you Harikrishnan Tulsidas Nuclear Technology Specialist Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Section International Atomic Energy Agency Tel: (+431) 2600 22758 Fax: (+431) 26007 22758 Room A26 19 Email: [email_address]

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