Overview of European experience with thorium fuels

Didier Haas, Michel Hugon, Marc Verwerft

    Research outputpeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Since the early 1970s, studies and experimental projects have been undertaken in Europe to examine the potential of thorium-based fuels in a variety of reactor types. The first trials were mainly devoted to the use of thorium in hightemperature reactors. These projects can be seen as scientific successes but were not pursued on a commercial basis because of the priority given in Europe to the development of light water reactors. Later on, thorium oxide was considered as a potential matrix for burning plutonium (possibly also minor actinides), and several core design studies, as well as experiments, were undertaken. The most recent such concern the BR2 and HFR Material Test Reactor (MTR) irradiations in Belgium and in the Netherlands, respectively, as well as the KWO PWR in Obrigheim in Germany, in which thorium-plutonium oxide fuel (Th-MOX) was successfully irradiated up to 38 GWd/tHM. The results of these experiments have shown that Th-MOX behaves in a comparable way as conventional uranium-plutonium oxide fuel (U-MOX). More work is still needed before Th-MOX will reach sufficient maturity to implement it on a large scale in power reactors, but all currently available results indicate that licensing Th-MOX for LWRs should be feasible. Finally, European research projects are still devoted to the study of thorium salts in molten salt reactors, a design that incorporates on-line reprocessing and needs no specific thorium fabrication, adding therefore the benefits of thorium without its main challenges.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNuclear Back-End and Transmutation Technology for Waste Disposal
    Subtitle of host publicationBeyond the Fukushima Accident
    PublisherSpringer Japan
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Electronic)9784431551119
    ISBN (Print)9784431551102
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Engineering
    • General Environmental Science
    • General Physics and Astronomy

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