Technology Assessment of Near-Term Open-Cycle Thorium-Fuelled Nuclear Energy Systems

  • W. J. NuttallEmail author
  • S. F. Ashley
  • R. A. Fenner
  • P. D. Krishnani
  • G. T. Parks
Conference paper


As part of the RCUK–India civil nuclear research collaboration, British and Indian researchers have assessed the merits and disadvantages of, and potential for, open-cycle thorium–uranium-fuelled (Th–U-fuelled) nuclear energy systems. The research centred on fuel cycle modelling and life-cycle assessment of three Th–U-fuelled nuclear energy systems and compared these to a reference uranium-fuelled nuclear energy system, all operating with open nuclear fuel cycles. The results indicate that thorium-based fuels offer little benefit over conventional uranium-fuelled approaches for open-cycle nuclear energy production. This chapter provides an overview on the project and stresses overarching conclusions.


Thorium Nuclear fuel cycle Life-cycle analysis Technology assessment 



Accelerator-driven subcritical reactor


Advanced heavy water reactor (DAE India funded)


A widely adopted type of pressurised heavy water reactor developed in Canada


European pressurised reactor (AREVA)


Fuel cycle


Greenhouse gas


Gas turbine modular helium reactor (General Atomics)


Life-cycle analysis


Levelised cost of electricity


Mixed oxide (nuclear fuel)


Molten salt reactor (various concepts)


Proliferation resistance


Pressurised water reactor


Spent nuclear fuel



The work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK) under grant no. EP/I018425/1. We are most grateful to all those who worked to establish the RCUK–India civil nuclear collaboration. We also wish to note our gratitude to all those listed as co-authors and in the acknowledgements sections of the papers where our individual studies are more fully described.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. Nuttall
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. F. Ashley
    • 2
  • R. A. Fenner
    • 2
  • P. D. Krishnani
    • 3
  • G. T. Parks
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Engineering and InnovationThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Reactor Physics Design DivisionBhabha Atomic Research CentreTrombay, MumbaiIndia

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