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India To Build A Thorium Reactor 277

In their first story, slowLearner writes "India will build a working Thorium reactor. [Quoting the Guardian] 'Officials are currently selecting a site for the reactor, which would be the first of its kind, using thorium for the bulk of its fuel instead of uranium – the fuel for conventional reactors. They plan to have the plant up and running by the end of the decade.'" Before anyone gets too excited, this is only a modified Heavy Water Reactor and not one of those fancy Molten Salt Reactors folks like Kirk Sorenson have been evangelizing for a while now.
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India To Build A Thorium Reactor

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  • Re:Nuclear waste (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @09:52AM (#37919502)

    The nuke waste problem still hasn't gone away. Building new plants is insane.

    Pouring it into the gutter outside the plant would be safer than the way waste is handled in a coal plant, i.e., thrown into the atmosphere. Yes, nuclear waste is very dangerous, but the fact that the danger is so concentrated is a good thing. It means we can feasibly contain it all.

  • Re:Well well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:04AM (#37919682)

    Half the reactors aren't in compliance with NRC regulations, because people like you stop us from replacing older, outdated reactors with newer more safe reactors. You can't on one hand decry the old reactors as being unsafe but then demand no new reactor be built to replace it. So is the old one more unsafe than the new one or not? If you don't like the old one let's build a new one that is safe.

    And Chernobyl and Fukushima were both decades old designs, I believe, late 70s. Unless you think reactor design hasn't changed since, then India's reactor will be more safe by default especially considering how they have to "activate" Thorium to even make it fissile. Hint, it's not by itself.

  • Re:Well well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:44AM (#37920216) Homepage

    Err, no. The old reactors are not unsafe because they're old, they're unsafe because the *designs* are old and are inherently unsafe. The newest designs cannot go into meltdown no matter how much you try.

  • Re:Well well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:51AM (#37920318)

    I will, but this double dare will include you moving right underneath a wind turbine, or moving into a houseboat in a large dam used for hydro-electric power.

    I wouldn't mind living under a roof with solar panels on it though. Solar is still quite a bit more expensive than coal, but is now cheaper than nuclear [], according to some.

  • Re:Nuclear waste (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daid303 ( 843777 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @10:51AM (#37920326)

    So we need to stop burning coal ASAP, because with nuke plants we can contain the waste, with coal burning we just spread it nice and even across the planet. []
    According to U.S. NCRP reports, population exposure from 1000-MWe power plants amounts to 490 person-rem/year for coal power plants and 4.8 person-rem/year for nuclear plants during normal operation, the latter being 136 person-rem/year for the complete nuclear fuel cycle.

  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @11:23AM (#37920814) Journal

    Geeks interested in safe practical thorium power really need to read the history of molten salt reactors here []. I hope India and China have the sense to invest in this path. The LFTR is the long term theoretical evolution of the molten salt reactor path. My only problem with the whole LFTR hype is it's pushing for massive research instead of building reactors we know how to build now. We should get back in the game now, first building a new MSR taking into account what we learned in the 60's and new advances since then, and then build a few commercial plants.

    To be specific about some of the hype I don't like, check out the claimed advantages of LFTRs []. Some of the advantages that LFTR theoretically inherit from MSR I wont dispute, including inherent safety, small size, and low operational cost, as MSR research proved that already in the 60's. However, I take issue with "load following" which means ramping the reactor up and down to follow the load. That's what all our other generators are good for, but to get your investment out of a nuclear reactor, you want to take advantage of it's low fuel cost and run it at 100% capacity almost all the time. This also greatly simplifies the engineering involved, and given the economics, there's simply no way our early LFTRs will be designed for load following. Then they claim minimal end-of-life expense. Cleaning up the MSR plant turned out to be massively more expensive than anyone would have guessed, though with knowledge gained from that experience, we should be able to do a better job next time. Then, they assume that the first LFTRs will use a new turbine design, rather than standard steam turbines. That might be where we eventually get, but build the first plants using cheaply available and well understood technology! This sort of hype looks more like fishing for DARPA grants than solving the energy crisis.

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