It is said that experimental thorium reactors were abandoned in favor of uranium based reactors because, during the Cold War, governments wanted weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct of civilian energy production plants. Thorium reactors do not produce plutonium and this seems to be more politically correct nowadays than it was in the 1970s. Thorium-based reactors are cleaner and safer than uranium-based reactors. It's not a new technology but rather an update of an old development that took place for over two decades.
India officially announced plans to build an experimental thorium reactor, that can be consequently converted into a stable and efficient energy production plant.
"In a rare interview, Ratan Kumar Sinha, the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, told the Guardian that his team is finalising the site for construction of the new large-scale experimental reactor, while at the same time conducting "confirmatory tests" on the design. The basic physics and engineering of the thorium-fuelled Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) are in place, and the design is ready," said Sinha."
For the reader to get more familiar with the difference between nuclear energy produced from thorium (instead of the too popular and not very well accepted uranium) there's a bit of history lane to read about the Molten Salt Reactor.
No less interesting will be to review what Kirk Sorensen expects from reviving the clean nuclear power where there's no waste to handle over millenniums and no proliferation. Among the next nuclear generation options are miniaturized conventional plants and "pebble bed" reactors that contain the nuclear fuel in the form of tiny graphite balls, thus reducing the catastrophic chances for meltdown.
Sure, India has more research and experimentation before entering the energy production phase with thorium. But it's a positive approach to creating electricity from cleaner energy sources.
The green nuclear energy may be a decade away, just around the corner!
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