To meet its rapidly growing energy demand, some opine that India should pursue research and development on thorium as the future fuel of nuclear energy. In this context, what advantage does thorium hold over uranium?
- Thorium is far more abundant in nature than uranium.
- On the basis of unit mass of mined mineral, thorium can generate more energy compared to natural uranium
- Thorium produces less harmful waster compared to uranium.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
[UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2012 Prelims]
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
- Statement 1 is correct, as thorium is three times more abundant than uranium and is found in comparable amounts to lead and gallium in the Earth’s crust.
- Statement 2 is correct, as it is estimated that a ton of thorium has the potential to generate as much energy as 35 tons of uranium in a liquid fluoride thorium reactor.
- Statement 3 is correct. Conventional reactors utilize a small fraction of their uranium fuel, while a well-functioning reprocessing reactor can utilize 99% of its thorium fuel. Additionally, the liquid fluoride thorium reactor produces significantly less nuclear waste, with up to two orders of magnitude less waste, eliminating the need for long-term, large-scale waste storage.