A ‘Nuclear Reactor’ with molten salt technology is in the developing process in China right now. China is all set to test thorium powered nuclear reactor this September.
Since 1969, this will be the world’s first one. The developers are hypothesizing that this latest molten salt technology is more ‘greener’ and ‘safer’ than the usual uranium reactors.
The question is whether this will be good for Beijing Climate goals or is this also based on geostrategy.
Nuclear Reactor to be Tested for the First Time
At the end of August, the news of the completion of the first thorium fuelled molten salt nuclear reactor was announced by Beijing.
A new history is all set to be created this September, in North China by the middle of the Gobi Desert.
The plan is starting in the next two weeks. The first test of this alternate reactor to the current nuclear technology is next week.
The new low-powered prototype can only create energy for almost 1,000 homes for now, according to the Scientific Journal Nature.
It’s almost near Wuwei, the northern city of China.
Chinese authorities will start building other cables of the reactor to produce electricity for more than 10,000 homes.
They will start working on it as soon as the test gets successful.
First Nuclear Reactor with Molten Salt Technology
Beijing will become the official exporter of the latest technology.
According to the French financial newspaper, Les Echos, This new reactor is a hot topic of discussion for the past 40 years.
Since America abandoned their Oak Ridge National facility in Tennessee, this will be the first-ever molten salt reactor operating in the globe, developed by China.
Jean Claude Garnier, The head of France’s Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA) told France 24, “Mostly all reactor use uranium as water and fuel currently, rather than the molten salt and thorium.”
The molten salt reactor is what this new technology is trying right now.
These two latest ingredients are not an accident but rather a choice of Beijing.
According to the Generation IV forum, the molten salt reactors are the most utilizing and promising technologies to use in power plants.
Better for the Environment?
Sylvain David, the research director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research(CNRS) and the nuclear reactor specialist explained in an interview, “With molten salt technology, it’s the salt that’s become the fuel itself.”
The crystals are there to mix with the nuclear material whether it’s thorium or uranium. It starts heating over 500° Celsius to melt as a liquid. Then it’s able to transfer the heat and produced energy.
According to Jean Claude Garnier, in theoretical explanation, this process is safer and will eliminate the risk of accidents. Because the liquid burning avoids damaging the reactor’s structures and out-of-control situations.
Since the molten salt reactors serve themselves as coolers, unlike the uranium reactors that need cooling. The new technology is an advantage for China as they don’t need to build it near the watercourses.
So, the reactors fit regions like the Gobi Desert.
The reactor is also a greener solution for the environment, unlike the uranium that is currently present in power plants. By burning thorium, there are no producing results of toxic chemicals like plutonium.
Smart Move or a Disaster?
According to Francesco D’Auria, the reason why authorities are using molten salt reactors now is that uranium 235 was essentially a natural candidate for this nuclear technology. So, Science didn’t look any further than this before.
The developers have to be more careful because it also produces uranium 233 that’s the needle fissile material for nuclear power generation.
The radiations from uranium 233 are also stranger than the other isotopes.
Its feasibility can also create other technical issues.
According to D’Auria, with corrosive products, you only can see the damage after 5-10 years.
Moreover, there’s no reason to celebrate the production the energy with uranium 233, according to the experts.
D’Auria pointed out, it’s not a natural isotope and can also use in building atomic bombs.
In essence, China can land up transforming the nuclear industry, but simultaneously, they might again unease the advocates of non-proliferation around the globe.