Thorium, the fuel for ASEAN’s future? (video)

nuclear10bThorium-based nuclear power could soon be a new means of electricity generation in ASEAN if Indonesia pushes ahead with an envisaged Thorium reactor ready for grid connection as soon as two years from now.

Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive chemical element that, according to experts, has several advantages over uranium and plutonium used in conventional nuclear reactors as it is about three to four times more abundant in the Earth’s crust, produces less nuclear waste and its radioactivity is significantly lower which allows handling the material without special safety measures. Furthermore, Thorium is also not easily weaponised, and due to its chemical composition hydrogen explosions as in Fukushima in 2011 are not possible.

Thorium is already being used in India’s nuclear power programme. The government in New Delhi wants to develop up to 62 thorium reactors which it expects to be operational by 2025. Canada, China, Germany, Russia, France, Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK and the US all have experimented with thorium as a substitute nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors, and Japan and Israel are considering the material as one of its future possible energy resources.

The Indonesian government has joined forced with Thorium Power Canada Inc. to build the test reactor. The Toronto-based company said it was in “advanced discussions” with the government in Jakarta to provide a small reactor that would either connect to the grid or to a water desalination plant in Kalimantan. The reactor would deliver between 10 and 25 megawatts and could be built in 18 to 24 months at investments of around $50 million.

Indonesia has already set up a homepage where details on the project can be viewed (Bahasa Indonesia only).

thorium graphThorium reactors at the current stage of development have generating capacities of between 10 megawatts and 100 megawatts, fitting them into a category that offers cost and manufacturing benefits when, for example, deployed in remote off-grid areas like mining operations.

Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, estimates that one tonne of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal, making Thorium an ideal substitute for both.

Thorium is mostly found with the rare earth phosphate mineral monazite. World monazite resources are estimated to be about 12 million tonnes, from which around 7 per cent could be extracted as pure Thorium. Two-thirds of the world’s monazite can be found in heavy mineral sands deposits on the south and east coasts of India, but there are substantial deposits in several other countries such as Australia, Brazil, the US, Canada and Malaysia.

Recently, an Irish documentary looked into Thorium as a fuel of the future. Independent film-makers Frankie Fenton and Des Kelleher have been filming this global resurgence and are close to finishing their documentary on the subject ‘The Good Reactor’, see below:

 

 

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Thorium-based nuclear power could soon be a new means of electricity generation in ASEAN if Indonesia pushes ahead with an envisaged Thorium reactor ready for grid connection as soon as two years from now.

nuclear10bThorium-based nuclear power could soon be a new means of electricity generation in ASEAN if Indonesia pushes ahead with an envisaged Thorium reactor ready for grid connection as soon as two years from now.

Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive chemical element that, according to experts, has several advantages over uranium and plutonium used in conventional nuclear reactors as it is about three to four times more abundant in the Earth’s crust, produces less nuclear waste and its radioactivity is significantly lower which allows handling the material without special safety measures. Furthermore, Thorium is also not easily weaponised, and due to its chemical composition hydrogen explosions as in Fukushima in 2011 are not possible.

Thorium is already being used in India’s nuclear power programme. The government in New Delhi wants to develop up to 62 thorium reactors which it expects to be operational by 2025. Canada, China, Germany, Russia, France, Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK and the US all have experimented with thorium as a substitute nuclear fuel in nuclear reactors, and Japan and Israel are considering the material as one of its future possible energy resources.

The Indonesian government has joined forced with Thorium Power Canada Inc. to build the test reactor. The Toronto-based company said it was in “advanced discussions” with the government in Jakarta to provide a small reactor that would either connect to the grid or to a water desalination plant in Kalimantan. The reactor would deliver between 10 and 25 megawatts and could be built in 18 to 24 months at investments of around $50 million.

Indonesia has already set up a homepage where details on the project can be viewed (Bahasa Indonesia only).

thorium graphThorium reactors at the current stage of development have generating capacities of between 10 megawatts and 100 megawatts, fitting them into a category that offers cost and manufacturing benefits when, for example, deployed in remote off-grid areas like mining operations.

Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, estimates that one tonne of thorium can produce as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal, making Thorium an ideal substitute for both.

Thorium is mostly found with the rare earth phosphate mineral monazite. World monazite resources are estimated to be about 12 million tonnes, from which around 7 per cent could be extracted as pure Thorium. Two-thirds of the world’s monazite can be found in heavy mineral sands deposits on the south and east coasts of India, but there are substantial deposits in several other countries such as Australia, Brazil, the US, Canada and Malaysia.

Recently, an Irish documentary looked into Thorium as a fuel of the future. Independent film-makers Frankie Fenton and Des Kelleher have been filming this global resurgence and are close to finishing their documentary on the subject ‘The Good Reactor’, see below:

 

 

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