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What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium...Thorium Power Inc
Thorium Power, Inc. and the Kurchatov Institute (Russia) are developing a fuel design for Russian VVER-1000 reactors to eliminate weapons-grade plutonium.Hindustan Times(on India's Thorium efforts)
Thorium Power and its Russian colleagues have estimated that the inherent design of this fuel, in particular its fabrication process and availability of existing infrastructure to support the project in Russia, point to cost and project timeframe advantages of this fuel to dispose of plutonium in Russia. This fuel is being designed to eliminate plutonium in existing VVER-1000 nuclear power plants in Russia at a greater rate and make the used fuel highly proliferation resistant, so no plutonium in the used fuel can be suitable for weapons purposes.
Thorium Power’s project conforms with the new initiative launched by Presidents Bush and Putin in May 2002...
India on Thursday unveiled before the international community its revolutionary design of "A Thorium Breeder Reactor (ATBR)" that can produce 600 MW of electricity for two years "with no refuelling and practically no control manoeuvres."H/T James Hudnall
Designed by scientists of Mumbai-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), ATBR is claimed to be far more economical and safer than any power reactor in the world.
Most significantly for India, ATBR does not require natural or enriched uranium which the country is finding difficult to import. It uses thorium -- which India has in plenty -- and only requires plutonium as "seed" to ignite the reactor core initially.
Eventually, ATBR can be running entirely with thorium and fissile uranium-233 bred inside the reactor (or obtained externally by converting fertile thorium into fissile Uranium-233 by neutron bombardment).