Second Thorium Fuel Test Round Started

The second phase of the five-year fuel irradiation project for thorium based nuclear fuels has commenced at Halden.This second phase is intended to verify test results from the first round, and is a further step towards commercializing thorium as a supplement fuel in conventional nuclear reactors. This is according to Thor Energy the fastest way to start the thorium fuel cycle.

The fuel irradiation project started in 2011 by establishing an international consortium, led by Thor Energy. The Thorium Irradiation Consortium, also named “The Seven Thirty” after the research test number
provided, is initiated and led by Thor Energy and has Norway's Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), Westinghouse, Finland's Fortum, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) as consortium partners. First rigs were loaded in the Halden test reactor, operated by the Institute for Energy Technology, in April 2013.

Second test rig being loaded into the Halden reactor.

- With this second rig loaded in Halden, we have reached a major milestone and an important stepping stone towards commercial approval for thorium in existing light water reactors,” said Øystein Asphjell, CEO of Thor Energy. - This rig represents a further step in the thorium evolution which will contribute towards the long term sustainability of nuclear power in general and specifically for thorium as an additive and improvement to the uranium fuel cycle,” Mr. Asphjell said.

The second phase of thorium irradiation in the Halden reactor consists of 12 fuel pins in a new, fully instrumented test fuel rig. It consists of three variants of ThAdd fuel, four reference pins as well as two pins with Accident Tolerant Fuel from Korean, KAERI. The irradiation will produce a great deal of unique data from a number of parameters that describes how the fuel ceramic behaves as it operates for long periods in a reactor core in various conditions. The Halden test reactor allows for continuous data collection while the fuel operates in simulated LWR conditions. The data acquired are necessary to confirm that the fuel could be implemented safely and productively in a commercial reactor and will support computer modeling efforts and the planning for follow-on testing in a commercial power reactor.

Control room at Halden.

Second thorium test rig.

Watch the presentation from Thor Energy VP Research & Development, Mr. Saleem Drera, at the recent Thorium Energy Conference ThEC15 in Mumbai here:

For an overview of the Halden facilities, watch the BBC News Reporter Robert Harrabin’s report.

Last updated 8 January, 2016