Thor Energy - the Norwegian thorium initiative
|April 2013: Thor Energy's test rig containing six thorium fuel rods shown here as it is being installed in the IFE Halden Research Reactor. CEO Øystein Asphjell (front left) observing closely. Photo: T.Tandberg|
The reasoning for thorium-MOX fuel draws on a number of key nuclear fuel cycle imperatives:
Thor Energy's Lise Chatwin Olsen (left), Saleem Drera and Øystein Asphjell with the thorium fuel rig ready for testing . Photo: T.Tandberg
- The light water reactor is here to stay as the nuclear power generating workhorse for the rest of the century.
- Fast reactors are meritorious, but have proven slow to license and deploy. It will be at least three decades before there is a sizable fast reactor fleet. Thorium-MOX LWR fuels can be designed to meet actinide management or fissile conversion goals expected of fast reactors, but without the difficulty of licensing a new reactor type.
- The absence of workable waste management strategies and solutions will be a bottleneck in the development of nuclear energy in numerous countries. Thorium-MOX fuel offers a credible plutonium management option that leads to more sustainable nuclear fuel use th an current modes of using UOX and uranium-MOX fuel.
- Thorium-MOX fuels utilize/destroy plutonium in spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and do not require enrichment services. Some proliferation concerns will remain, however, the use of thorium fuel will reduce these radically.
- Achieving more sustainable energy generation in which mined nuclear material is used more effectively. This draws on the possibility for high conversion or even breeding of fissile U-233 from thorium fuels.
- Employing fuels that generate smaller problematic waste streams, and that can also transmute (destroy) actinide components in current-generation thermal reactor systems.