• 4 minutes Oil Price Could Fall To $30 If Global Deal Not Extended
  • 7 minutes Middle East on brink: Oil tankers attacked off Oman
  • 11 minutes CNN:America's oil boom will break more records this year. OPEC is stuck in retreat
  • 14 minutes The Latest: Iranian FM Says US Cannot Expect To ‘Stay Safe’
  • 14 mins The Pope: "Climate change ... doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain."
  • 8 hours US Shale Drilling lacks regulatory body.
  • 2 hours Ireland To Ban New Petrol And Diesel Vehicles From 2030
  • 3 hours Solar Panels at 26 cents per watt
  • 3 hours Trudeau approves Trans Mountain Pipeline
  • 42 mins Venezuela's Maduro sneaks $300 million of gold out of country to Africa.
  • 1 min The Plastics Problem
  • 6 hours Huge UK Gas Discovery
  • 14 hours Why Is America (Texas) Burning Millions of Dollars Per Day Of Natural Gas?
  • 14 hours The Magic and Wonders of US Shale Supply: Keeping energy price shock minimised: US oil supply keeping lid on prices despite global risks: IEA chief
  • 8 hours OPEC, GEO-POLITICS & OIL SUPPLY & PRICES
  • 7 hours Malaysia Oil & Gas Updates
  • 40 mins Coal Boom in Asia is Real and a Long Trend
  • 24 mins Fareed Zakaria: Canary in the Coal Mine (U.S. Dollar Hegemony)

Breaking News:

Oil Stabilizes On Small Crude Draw

A Watershed Moment For Gazprom

A Watershed Moment For Gazprom

The Kremlin’s push for reform…

The Oil Company Investors Fear Most

The Oil Company Investors Fear Most

This is arguably the most…

World Looks on as Norwegian Company Tests Thorium in Nuclear Reactor

Thor Energy, a small nuclear energy company based in Norway, has begun testing the potential of thorium as a replacement for uranium in nuclear reactors. Enthusiasts in the nuclear industry have been promoting thorium as a safer, more efficient alternative to uranium, but many industry traditionalists have downplayed these claims.

At the end of April, Thor Energy began to use thorium at the IFE Halden Research Reactor in Østfold county, Norway.

The test reactor at the Halden nuclear power plant
The test reactor at the Halden nuclear power plant.(Thor Energy)

Last week the World Nuclear News (WNN), a part of the World Nuclear Association, wrote an article on the tests by Thor Energy, supporting thorium as a fuel source that “promises higher operating safety margins due to higher thermal conductivity and melting point, and produces no new plutonium as it operates.”

Related article: Indonesia and Chile to Build Thorium Nuclear Reactors

One of the largest draws of a reactor powered by thorium, is that it doesn’t produce plutonium which can be used for nuclear weapons, and the waste has a far shorter half-life, meaning that it decays to a harmless state in far less time. Thorium is also an ideal fuel for alternative reactors to the traditional salt water reactor, such as the molten salt reactor, which uses a liquid form of the fuel that cannot suffer a meltdown.

Rather than using a pure thorium fuel, Thor Energy has included a 10% mix of “finely blended plutonium oxide as a ‘fissile driver’.” This thorium MOX (mixed oxide) will enable nuclear reactors to consume plutonium waste from traditional uranium reactions, therefore reducing the huge stockpiles of nuclear waste that are stored around the world.

The thorium MOX fuel rods at the Halden reactor.
The thorium MOX fuel rods at the Halden reactor. (smartplanet)

Related article: Nuclear Energy Innovation is Vital for Slowing Climate Change

WNN wrote that “Thor Energy pointed out that thorium-plutonium fuels therefore provide a new option for reducing civil and military plutonium stocks.”

CEO Oystein Asphjell said the tests heralded "the beginning of a new era - not only for our company and our partners, but as an important evolutionary step in the nuclear power industry."

After five years of testing the fuel will be studied in order to calculate its efficiency, as well as the safety claims. WNN stated that Thro Energy will be able to “provide unique information necessary for qualifying this new fuel for commercial use in current reactors.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News