Russia investigates thorium

23 August 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the government jointly with the state nuclear corporation Rosatom and the National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute to prepare proposals on the prospects for the use of thorium as nuclear fuel by 1 March 2017, according to the Kremlin website. Rosatom, in cooperation with stakeholders, is also asked to develop a coordinated position on the procedure for handling of thorium, before 1 October this year. Thorium, a naturally occurring slightly radioactive metal, is more abundant than uranium, and research is being carried out into its potential use in nuclear reactors in several countries, including Russia, China, India, Norway, Canada, the US and Israel. Thorium’s potential advantages include its greater abundance, superior physical and nuclear properties, better resistance to nuclear weapons proliferation and reduced plutonium and actinide production. Thorium-based fuels and fuel cycles have been used in the past, but only on an experimental basis. India, which has extensive thorium reserves, is in the final stages of developing an advanced heavy water reactor, which will use uranium-thorium fuel.

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