China’s Research Into Thorium Will Have Implications for Nuclear Energy In the United States

August 3, 2016

  • China has the most aggressive research program into molten salt reactors and thorium. They are referred to as fourth generation nuclear reactors, which it hopes to commercialize in 15 years. If it is able to do so, experts say that nuclear energy would be more efficient, cheaper and safer than today’s uranium-based reactors. India and Canada are also pursuing the technology. In total, China has 34 nuclear plants, says the World Nuclear Association, and 20 more are under construction. By 2020, nuclear energy will make up 58,000 megawatts of the country’s energy mix. By 2030, it is expected to be 150,000 megawatts of third-generation reactors. That is still much less than the country’s coal portfolio, which comprises about 70 percent of its electricity generation.

Chinese scientists urged to develop new thorium nuclear reactors by 2024

18 March, 2014

  • The deadline to develop a new design of nuclear power plant has been brought forward by 15 years as the central government tries to reduce the nation’s reliance on smog-producing coal-fired power stations. A team of scientists in Shanghai had originally been given 25 years to try to develop the world’s first nuclear plant using the radioactive element thorium as fuel rather than uranium, but they have now been told they have 10, the researchers said. “In the past the government was interested in nuclear power because of the energy shortage. Now they are more interested because of smog,” said Professor Li Zhong, a scientist working on the project.

The U.S. government lab behind Beijing’s nuclear power push

December 20, 2013

  • Scientists in Shanghai are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium, an alternative to uranium. The project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates the country’s science-and-technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories. The program has a budget of $350 million. And it’s being spearheaded by the influential son of a former Chinese president. But even as China bulks up its military muscle through means ranging from espionage to heavy spending, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing – and the help – of the United States. China has enlisted a storied partner for its thorium push: Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The U.S. government institute produced the plutonium used for the Manhattan Project and laid important groundwork for the commercial and military use of nuclear power.

U.S. & China Collaborate on Thorium Nuclear Power Research

Jul 02, 2012

  • Mark Halper writing for SmartPlanet reports the U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as the molten salt reactor that should run on thorium for fuel. According to a March presentation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on thorium molten salt reactors, Peter Lyons DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy is co-chairing the partnership’s executive committee, along with Jiang Mianheng from the CAS.