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June 27, 2012

China and the USA partner for molten salt thorium reactor project and India plans a Thorium Reactor

1. The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel.

China plans to have a 5 megawatt molten salt reactor in 2015.

DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy Peter Lyons is co-chairing the partnership’s executive committee, along with Jiang Mianheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), according to a March presentation by CAS on thorium molten salt reactors. Beijing-based CAS is a state group overseeing about 100 research institutes. It and the DOE have established what CAS calls the “CAS and DOE Nuclear Energy Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding.”

Outside of the DOE, at least three companies in the West are privately developing thorium reactors: Flibe Energy, Huntsville, Ala, which has dusted off 1960s ORNL technology; Thorenco, San Francisco; and Ottawa Valley Research, Ottawa. Baroness Bryony Worthington of the UK House of Lords has emerged as the West’s political champion for thorium. India, home to huge reserves of thorium, also has ambitious plans. Japanese utility Chubu Electric is considering it.


2. India Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman R K Sinha said - India is planning to establish a nuclear power plant that uses thorium as main fuel instead of uranium, which is used in conventional reactors.



Sinha said the country already has the technological know-how to use thorium. However, for large-scale use of thorium, the country will need two decades. "We have to assess the thorium-powered reactor on various aspects in the long-term before replicating similar models in bigger ways," he added.

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