Friday, July 06, 2007

FUSION or FISSION, both are now within reach of India

To produce nuclear power one needs huge cache of uranium & this is in short supply in India. India has been unsuccessfully trying to import uranium on large scale(though both Russia & USA supplied earlier, later USA stopped its supply after Pokhran 1974). India has for long been trying to develop Thorium fuel cycle as an alternate to Uranium based model for its nuclear power generation. I had referred to this in my post on Indo US nuclear deal.

India has made a spectacular development on this front. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has been fore front in developing this technology for India. In an paper submitted by Indian Scientist V. Jagannathan and his team had submitted a paper on novel design of Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor (FTBR) being developed by at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to the International Conference on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems (ICENES) held June 9-14 in Istanbul.

This paper emphaises not only that fuel cycle on thorium is practical but that once the fast breeder reactor is build they can also produce both uranium 233 and plutonium from the same reactor. Their calculations show the sodium-cooled FTBR, while consuming 10.96 tonnes of plutonium to generate 1,000 MW of power, breeds 11.44 tonnes of plutonium and 0.88 tonnes of U-233 in a cycle length of two years.

Such an development can help India fulfill its most of the power needs. though this is an theoritical concept, IGCAR (Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research) has successfully built the 30 kW in 1996 named KAMINI. which uses indigenously developed mixed uranium 233 - AL as fuel. The uranium-233-Al fuel can be derived from irradiated thorium. Incidentally, it is the only reactor in the world using uranium 233 as fuel. Based on that experience, India is now in the process of commissioning 500 MWe prototype Fast breeder reactor at kalpakkam.
The reactor based on thorium are said to be safest reactors. with the publishing of the above paper India has proced itself to be pioneer in the field of safe reactors with alternative nuclear fuel like thorium. World has thrice as large as thorium deposit than uranium. India has second largest deposits of thorium in the world.

As a sign of twin success, Cabinet has ratified India's participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, that aims to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power to produce energy.

The agreement for the same was signed earlier itself. Apart from India, the other ITER partners are the European Union, Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and the US. India will be investing around Rs. 2,500 crore for the same. India's joining ITER is a recognition of our scientific and technical capability in fusion energy.

No comments: