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April 16, 2010

Thorium One Seeks $23 million in Funding to Develop and Commericalize Thorium Plutonium MOX Fuel by 2020

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Cleantech.com reports Thorium One, a Vancouver, Canada-based company is attempting to fund ($23 million) the development of a new fuel design—called Thorium Plutonium MOX—that it says can be used in existing infrastructure for nuclear reactors in the production of nuclear energy that does not create bomb-usable waste.

A private company in Europe initially developed the design for the fuel, funded with about €20 million, primarily from an undisclosed wealthy individual. But the company, which Bryan declined to name, didn’t have the ability to commercialize the technology. The European company has agreed to partner with Thorium One, under certain conditions, allowing it to benefit from Bryan’s background as an accountant and founder of a mining company, as well as other financial and operational expertise within Thorium One. If the merger is completed, the combined 30-employee entity would operate a fully-funded testing and permitting process to advance the technology, with test time on reactors already booked, Bryan said. Fuel testing is expected to begin in October.

Initially, the company is looking to raise about €17 million ($23 million) in the next 30 months for fuel testing and permitting. The company is building a prototype and testing it in a test reactor. Bryan thinks the technology can be commercially viable in less than nine years.

Two undisclosed utility customers are interested in purchasing the fuel when it is permitted for use, he said. One of these utilities led the consortium that designed the fuel.

Thorium One faces competition in the space from companies such as Mclean, Va.-based Lightbridge (Nasdaq:LTBR), a nuclear energy firm formerly called formerly Thorium Power, which is developing proliferation resistant fuel technology also using thorium. In addition, it offers integrated advisory services for existing and emerging nuclear programs
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Further Reading A Thorium report from Norway (2008)
51 page report on Thorium based nuclear reactors from the University of Surrey. (2008)

One of the reasons which disqualified thorium-uranium breeders as compared to uranium plutonium breeders was, the non-existence of a 233U stockpile to start with. NOTE: There is 1000kg of U-233 in the United States, which thorium proponents have been campaigning to stop from being destroyed. [Kirk Sorensen and others have presented different plans to start a Thorium fuel cycle] By contrast the PWR, BWR heavy water, and graphite moderated reactors were producing large amounts of plutonium. The advent of thorium-plutonium MOX fuels would change the picture; 233U could be burned in standard reactors without entailing the production of large amounts of plutonium or minor actinides. [K. Balakrishnan, S. Majumdar, A. Ramanujam and A. Kakodkar, the Indian Perspectives on Thorium Fuel Cycles. Thorium Fuel Utilization: Options and Trends, IAEA-TECDOC- 1319, Vienna: IAEA, 2002, 257-265]

A PWR burning uranium-plutonium MOX incinerates ~ 544kg of plutonium per year for the simplicity of the argument, we assume here a “fully MOGED PWR” however, only third of fuel a PWR is “MOXed”. A “fully MOGED PWR” PWR loaded with thoriumuranium MOX should produce approximately 280kg of 233U per year while it incinerates approximately 800kg of plutonium, producing about 20% less minor actinides.



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