Aiming to Cut the Time to Market for Thorium Fuels

Watch Saleem Drera, Vice President, Research and Development at Thor Energy, talk about Thor Energy’s business idea, technology, goals and challenges in an interview conducted during the Thorium Energy Conference in Mumbai.

Mr. Drera works as Vice President, Research and Development at Thor Energy, a Norwegian company working with development, testing and licensing of light water reactor based thorium fuels. Thor Energy was started as a feasibility study within its mother company Scatec, a Scandinavian advanced technology company interested in commercializing concepts related to green energy production. The idea was to answer the question ‘Can thorium play a role in the near to medium term nuclear industry?’. ‘I believe that thorium energy can provide a platform for a more sustainable nuclear fuel cycle in the future and that introduction of thorium needs to take place in conventional light water reactor platforms’, says Mr. Drera.

Saleem Drera’s interview at ThEC15 in Mumbai

The uniqueness about Thor Energy’s technology approach is that the company believes it can bring thorium into the world before a lot of other technologies are able to accomplish that. ‘We’re working with conventional light water reactors, platforms that have already been developed, and our technology involves a sustainable and available manufacturing technology. Essentially it’s a new product but originated from the conventional industry. The time to market is much less than what it is for these nirvana applications of thorium such as the molten salt reactor or the accelerated driven systems’, explains Mr. Drera.

For Thor Energy, the small size of the company forms a challenge in an industry that is not focused on small companies. ‘The licensing body and the licensing platform are not able to deal with small companies’ says Mr. Drera. Another challenge is funding. ‘We have enough funding to complete all of our research but then there’s a period of funding which you need to have for licensing applications and that is still up in the air. We hope to attract industrial partners and maybe national laboratories to help co-fund and reach our final goals.’ comments Mr. Drera on the financing of Thor Energy’s project.

Mr. Drera believes the increased safety features of thorium can help in winning public support. ‘If Fukushima had thorium fuels, the severe accident scenario would not have been nearly as catastrophic as it was’, he explains. He believes there will be a big push to move from standard fuels to accident tolerant fuels. ‘In 10 years time, I hope that we have irradiated in a commercial reactor and the licensing of this application is almost complete so that we can move to full commercial applications in light water reactors’, Mr. Drera summarizes the time frame for Thor Energy’s technology.

Thor Energy has formed an international consortium that has been cooperating with and co-funding the thorium fuel irradiation project since 2011. ‘We’re interested in expanding that consortium and it is open to interested partners’, concludes Mr.Drera.

The second phase of the five-year fuel irradiation project commenced in the beginning of January. Read more about Thor Energy, the international consortium and the fuel irradiation project here.

For more detailed information about Thor Energy’s technology approach, see Mr. Drera’s presentation at ThEC15 in Mumbai:
Saleem Drera’s presentation at ThEC15 in Mumbai

Last updated 28 January, 2016