Nuclear Roundup: India’s Plans, Japan Steel Will Triple Forging Capacity,

1. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will start site work next year for 12 indigenously-developed reactors, including eight pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) of 700 MWe each, three 500 MWe fast breeder reactors (FBRs) and one 300 MWe advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR).

This week he said that “India is now focusing on capacity addition through indigenisation” with progressively higher local content for imported designs, up to 80%.

Looking ahead, NPCIL’s augmentation plan includes construction of 25-30 light water reactors of at least 1000 MWe by 2030, and NPCIL is currently identifying coastal sites for the first of these, both 1000 and 1650 MWe types.

Long term, the AEC envisages its fast reactor program being 30 to 40 times bigger than the present PHWR program, which has some 4.4 GWe operating or under construction and 5.6 GWe planned. This will be linked with up to 40 GWe of light water reactor capacity, the used fuel feeding ten times that fast breeder capacity, thus “deriving much larger benefit out of the external acquisition in terms of light water reactors and their associated fuel.” This 40 GWe of imported LWR multiplied to 400 GWe via FBR synergy would complement 200-250 GWe based on the indigenous programme of PHWR-FBR-AHWR. Thus, AEC is “talking about 500 to 600 GWe over the next 50 years or so” of nuclear capacity in India, plus export opportunities.

How these reactors relate to Thorium and the nuclear fuel cycle

The long-term goal of India’s nuclear program is to develop an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle. This first employs the PHWRs fuelled by natural uranium, and light water reactors, to produce plutonium.

Stage 2 uses fast neutron reactors burning the plutonium to breed U-233 from thorium. The blanket around the core will have uranium as well as thorium, so that further plutonium (ideally high-fissile Pu) is produced as well as the U-233.

Then in stage 3, Advanced Heavy Water Reactors (AHWRs) burn the U-233 and this plutonium with thorium, getting about two thirds of their power from the thorium.

In 2002 the regulatory authority issued approval to start construction of a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam and this is now under construction by BHAVINI. The unit is expected to be operating in 2010, fuelled with uranium-plutonium oxide (the reactor-grade Pu being from its existing PHWRs). It will have a blanket with thorium and uranium to breed fissile U-233 and plutonium respectively. This will take India’s ambitious thorium program to stage 2, and set the scene for eventual full utilisation of the country’s abundant thorium to fuel reactors. Four more such fast reactors have been announced for construction by 2020.

Initial FBRs will be have mixed oxide fuel but these will be followed by metallic-fuelled ones to enable shorter doubling time.

2. Japan steel to triple forging to 12 per year by 2012.

3. My favorite Idaho’s : Suggestions for nuclear power policy and plans in the United States

Dan Yurman, Idaho Samizdat, recommends:

The main idea is that the government should set up a revolving loan fund (at last $200 billion) and be the investor of first choice for a nuclear utility. By offering funding at 100% of the cost of the plant, to be repaid over 15 years at a rate equal to a treasury bond, e.g., 4.5%, the government would break even and provide exactly the same benefit to the utility as a loan guarantee. The difference is the government assumes all the risk, not just 80% of it.

Idaho National Labs plan for making the most of current light water nuclear.

Research the details of extending nuclear plants to safe 80 year operation and start building 4-8 per year in 2021 and build the 30 or so in the licensing pipeline. This would quadruple nuclear power in the USA by 2070. Double nuclear power by 2030, Triple it by 2050.