torsdag 23. september 2021

China eyes thorium breakthrough in Gobi desert

On the edge of the Gobi Desert, at a place called Wuwei, China will soon test a safe, inexpensive nuclear energy, that will not need water to cool nuclear fuel rods nor uranium. This experimental nuclear reactor uses thorium as a fuel and experts believe that China will be the first country to have a chance to commercialize the technology, German website reported.

The reactor is unusual in that it has molten salts circulating inside it instead of water.It has the potential to produce nuclear energy that is relatively safe and cheap, while also generating a much smaller amount of very long-lived radioactive waste than conventional reactors.

Operated by the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP), the reactor is designed to generate just two megawatts of thermal energy — enough to supply up to 1,000 households. If the experiments are successful, however, China hopes to build a reactor with a capacity of 373 megawatts by 2030, which could supply hundreds of thousands of households with electricity. According to the government of Gansu Province, construction was to be completed by early September and a trial run is slated later this month.

What exactly is thorium and why is it important?