China is planning to curb the environmental threats posed by nuclear reactors. LiveScience has reported that the country is looking for alternatives such as liquid-based thorium to use in the functioning of nuclear reactors. This will reduce the amount of water to be used for cooling.
Nuclear reactors are much safe when thorium is used instead of uranium. This is because the molten salt cools down comparatively faster and insulates it. If there are any leaks, the probability of spilling any radiation is very low than in the earlier case. The wastes produced will also be lesser in the case of thorium. Another important thing to note is that this cannot be easily used to build nuclear weapons.
This will be a huge step in the process of going carbon neutral by the country which contributes about 27% towards global carbon emissions.
China expects to build the prototype reactor next month and plans to begin its test by September this year. Since water is not a necessity for such reactors, these can be built in deserts too. China’s reactor is to be built in the desert city of Wuwei. More reactors will be built in many cities and China will also invest in other countries through its “Belt and Road” initiative. The country views nuclear energy as one of the key elements in this initiative.
Thorium is a better alternative for uranium also because it is much cheaper and easily available than uranium.