Thorium-Based Fuels for Advanced Nuclear Reactors: Thermophysical, Thermochemical, and Thermodynamic Properties
India is developing thorium-based nuclear technologies with the aim to introduce them in its energy mix that is sustainable in the long term. Various reactor systems based on thorium fuel cycle are being developed. These include (i) thorium utilization in existing reactors (PHWRs), (ii) advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR), (iii) metallic-fueled reactors (fast/thermal), and (iv) molten salt reactor (MSR). Different fuel forms being studied include oxides/carbides, metallic alloys, and fluoride salts. Comprehensive information on the physicochemical properties of fuel is a primary input as required by reactor engineers and safety analysts to predict its performance under normal/off-normal reactor operation scenarios. The variable parameters essentially include temperature, composition, microstructure, and radiation field. A reliable database on thermophysical, thermochemical, and thermodynamic properties of fuel and related materials is therefore essential. This chapter presents an overview of R&D efforts in this direction carried out at Chemistry Group of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Important results and their implications in terms of fuel’s performance potential are highlighted. While understanding of thorium-based oxide fuels (Th-U MOX, Th–Ce MOX, and SIMFUELS) has attained reasonable maturity, exciting potential of thorium-based in metallic fuel and fluoride salt fuel is being unearthed with recent experimental work. Few results on thorium-based metallic alloys are also presented. To conclude, glimpses of research efforts on thorium-based fluoride salts for Indian molten salt breeder reactor (IMSBR) are outlined.
KeywordsThorium-based fuels AHWR Thermophysical properties Thermochemical properties
Authors are thankful to International Thorium Energy Alliance and organizers of International Thorium Energy Conference 2015 for providing the opportunity to present this work during the conference.
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