India has the second largest thorium reserves in the world. Now, that’s really something. But what exactly can we do about this? This article says India should quickly plan about how to use thorium in its nuclear future.
India must introspect on which nuclear fuel it will choose to achieve its goal of generating 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020 — uranium, which the whole world uses, or thorium, a fuel India can source locally and has technical capabilities in, but which remains unproven commercially? The choice will determine over Rs 1 lakh crore of immediate orders for equipment and project management services, a lifetime of maintenance services contracts and an opportunity to stamp the future of India’s ambitious civil nuclear energy programme with the technology’s supremacy.
Uranium vs Thorium
-> Unlike uranium, thorium cannot be readily used as weapon-grade fissile material
-> Thorium reactors produce 70 per cent less nuclear waste compared to uranium reactors
-> Spent fuel from thorium reactors is 90 per cent less radioactive than uranium spent fuel
-> Thorium fuel is 5-10 per cent cheaper and less price-volatile than uranium fuel
-> Thorium is three-four times more abundant on Earth than uranium
Thorium Reserves (Tons)
South Africa 35000
Source: BusinessWorld Research, 2008 Dec