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INDIA’S THORIUM-BASED NUCLEAR ENERGY



  Apr 25, 2024

INDIA’S THORIUM-BASED NUCLEAR ENERGY



1. What is thorium, and why is it important for India’s nuclear energy?

Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element found in large quantities in India, particularly in Kerala and Odisha. It is seen as a potentially sustainable energy source because it is more abundant than uranium and produces less nuclear waste during energy production.

2. How does thorium work as a nuclear fuel?

Thorium itself is not fissile and cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction. It must first be converted into Uranium-233 using a nuclear reactor. Once converted, Uranium-233 acts as a fuel to generate nuclear power.

3. What is the status of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor in India?

The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu has undergone successful tests to demonstrate the feasibility of using thorium. This reactor is part of India’s ambitious plan to develop a three-stage nuclear power program, focusing on utilizing its thorium reserves to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

4. How does thorium contribute to India’s energy security?

Thorium offers India a way to reduce its dependence on imported uranium. By developing technology to utilize thorium, which it has in abundance, India can secure a more sustainable and self-sufficient nuclear energy future.

5. What international cooperation does India engage in for thorium research?

India is an active participant in various international forums under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and seeks to advance its research and development in thorium technology through international collaborations. However, it remains outside some multilateral collectives focusing exclusively on thorium-based systems.

6. What are the environmental impacts of using thorium?

Thorium reactors are touted as a cleaner nuclear technology because they generate fewer long-lived radioactive wastes compared to conventional uranium reactors. This can contribute significantly to reducing the environmental footprint of nuclear power.


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