Title: Potential for the Near-Term Use of the Thorium Cycle in a Sustainable Way
Other Contributors: WIDER HARTMUT
Citation: International Conference Nuclear Energy for New Europe 2007 p. 103.1-103.6
Publisher: Nuclear Society of Slovenia
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC43304
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC43304
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Nuclear sustainability is generally believed to be only reachable through the building of many fast breeder reactors. This paper shows that there is another possibility by using existing reactors that are either thermal breeders or have at least a high conversion ratio and considerably smaller critical masses than fast systems. Earlier it was believed that thermal molten salt breeders could eventually use the thorium / 233U cycle, which doesn¿t generate minor actinides and is therefore a cleaner fuel cycle. In the meantime, it has become rather clear that CANDU reactors that use heavy water cooling can also be self-breeders. The CANDU reactors could generate themselves 233U in thorium targets and could become self-sustaining after 12 years. However, additional 233U could also be generated in LWRs and fast reactors. It is shown that this generation of 233U will allow a faster large-term nuclear expansion than fast reactors alone. There could actually be a synergy between thermal and fast breeders if the latter are run with Pu/Minor Actinides/Th fuel, which burns the minor actinides and generates sizeable amounts of 233U. The main problem is still the necessary reprocessing on which India is working and intends to have in 10 years a large scale reprocessing facility available. However, there is at least an existing method for removing the 233U by the fluoride volatility method and to further use it in CANDUs. For the preparation of the use of 233U, we should attempt to run thorium subassemblies in CANDUs, LWRs, and fast reactors. Besides breeding 233U or at least having a high conversion ratio, CANDUs have the further advantage that they don¿t need a pressure vessel and therefore could be built in large numbers faster than LWRs.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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