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Title: India's baseline plan for nuclear energy self-sufficiency.

Abstract

India's nuclear energy strategy has traditionally strived for energy self-sufficiency, driven largely by necessity following trade restrictions imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) following India's 'peaceful nuclear explosion' of 1974. On September 6, 2008, the NSG agreed to create an exception opening nuclear trade with India, which may create opportunities for India to modify its baseline strategy. The purpose of this document is to describe India's 'baseline plan,' which was developed under constrained trade conditions, as a basis for understanding changes in India's path as a result of the opening of nuclear commerce. Note that this treatise is based upon publicly available information. No attempt is made to judge whether India can meet specified goals either in scope or schedule. In fact, the reader is warned a priori that India's delivery of stated goals has often fallen short or taken a significantly longer period to accomplish. It has been evident since the early days of nuclear power that India's natural resources would determine the direction of its civil nuclear power program. It's modest uranium but vast thorium reserves dictated that the country's primary objective would be thorium utilization. Estimates of India's natural deposits vary appreciably, but its uranium reservesmore » are known to be extremely limited, totaling approximately 80,000 tons, on the order of 1% of the world's deposits; and nominally one-third of this ore is of very low uranium concentration. However, India's roughly 300,000 tons of thorium reserves account for approximately 30% of the world's total. Confronted with this reality, the future of India's nuclear power industry is strongly dependent on the development of a thorium-based nuclear fuel cycle as the only way to insure a stable, sustainable, and autonomous program. The path to India's nuclear energy self-sufficiency was first outlined in a seminal paper by Drs. H. J. Bhabha and N. B. Prasad presented at the Second United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1958. The paper described a three stage plan for a sustainable nuclear energy program consistent with India's limited uranium but abundant thorium natural resources. In the first stage, natural uranium would be used to fuel graphite or heavy water moderated reactors. Plutonium extracted from the spent fuel of these thermal reactors would drive fast reactors in the second stage that would contain thorium blankets for breeding uranium-233 (U-233). In the final stage, this U-233 would fuel thorium burning reactors that would breed and fission U-233 in situ. This three stage blueprint still reigns as the core of India's civil nuclear power program. India's progress in the development of nuclear power, however, has been impacted by its isolation from the international nuclear community for its development of nuclear weapons and consequent refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Initially, India was engaged in numerous cooperative research programs with foreign countries; for example, under the 'Atoms for Peace' program, India acquired the Cirus reactor, a 40 MWt research reactor from Canada moderated with heavy water from the United States. India was also actively engaged in negotiations for the NPT. But, on May 18, 1974, India conducted a 'peaceful nuclear explosion' at Pokharan using plutonium produced by the Cirus reactor, abruptly ending the era of international collaboration. India then refused to sign the NPT, which it viewed as discriminatory since it would be required to join as a non-nuclear weapons state. As a result of India's actions, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was created in 1975 to establish guidelines 'to apply to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities. These nuclear export controls have forced India to be largely self-sufficient in all nuclear-related technologies.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
982345
Report Number(s):
ANL/NE-09/03
TRN: US1004383
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
ENGLISH
Subject:
45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; CIRUS REACTOR; FAST REACTORS; HEAVY WATER; HEAVY WATER MODERATED REACTORS; INDIA; NATURAL URANIUM; NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY; NUCLEAR ENERGY; NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS; NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES; NUCLEAR FUELS; NUCLEAR POWER; NUCLEAR TRADE; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; RESEARCH PROGRAMS; RESEARCH REACTORS; SPENT FUELS; THERMAL REACTORS; THORIUM; THORIUM RESERVES; URANIUM; URANIUM 233; URANIUM RESERVES

Citation Formats

Bucher, R G, and Nuclear Engineering Division. India's baseline plan for nuclear energy self-sufficiency.. United States: N. p., 2009. Web. doi:10.2172/982345.
Bucher, R G, & Nuclear Engineering Division. India's baseline plan for nuclear energy self-sufficiency.. United States. doi:10.2172/982345.
Bucher, R G, and Nuclear Engineering Division. Thu . "India's baseline plan for nuclear energy self-sufficiency.". United States. doi:10.2172/982345. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/982345.
@article{osti_982345,
title = {India's baseline plan for nuclear energy self-sufficiency.},
author = {Bucher, R G and Nuclear Engineering Division},
abstractNote = {India's nuclear energy strategy has traditionally strived for energy self-sufficiency, driven largely by necessity following trade restrictions imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) following India's 'peaceful nuclear explosion' of 1974. On September 6, 2008, the NSG agreed to create an exception opening nuclear trade with India, which may create opportunities for India to modify its baseline strategy. The purpose of this document is to describe India's 'baseline plan,' which was developed under constrained trade conditions, as a basis for understanding changes in India's path as a result of the opening of nuclear commerce. Note that this treatise is based upon publicly available information. No attempt is made to judge whether India can meet specified goals either in scope or schedule. In fact, the reader is warned a priori that India's delivery of stated goals has often fallen short or taken a significantly longer period to accomplish. It has been evident since the early days of nuclear power that India's natural resources would determine the direction of its civil nuclear power program. It's modest uranium but vast thorium reserves dictated that the country's primary objective would be thorium utilization. Estimates of India's natural deposits vary appreciably, but its uranium reserves are known to be extremely limited, totaling approximately 80,000 tons, on the order of 1% of the world's deposits; and nominally one-third of this ore is of very low uranium concentration. However, India's roughly 300,000 tons of thorium reserves account for approximately 30% of the world's total. Confronted with this reality, the future of India's nuclear power industry is strongly dependent on the development of a thorium-based nuclear fuel cycle as the only way to insure a stable, sustainable, and autonomous program. The path to India's nuclear energy self-sufficiency was first outlined in a seminal paper by Drs. H. J. Bhabha and N. B. Prasad presented at the Second United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1958. The paper described a three stage plan for a sustainable nuclear energy program consistent with India's limited uranium but abundant thorium natural resources. In the first stage, natural uranium would be used to fuel graphite or heavy water moderated reactors. Plutonium extracted from the spent fuel of these thermal reactors would drive fast reactors in the second stage that would contain thorium blankets for breeding uranium-233 (U-233). In the final stage, this U-233 would fuel thorium burning reactors that would breed and fission U-233 in situ. This three stage blueprint still reigns as the core of India's civil nuclear power program. India's progress in the development of nuclear power, however, has been impacted by its isolation from the international nuclear community for its development of nuclear weapons and consequent refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Initially, India was engaged in numerous cooperative research programs with foreign countries; for example, under the 'Atoms for Peace' program, India acquired the Cirus reactor, a 40 MWt research reactor from Canada moderated with heavy water from the United States. India was also actively engaged in negotiations for the NPT. But, on May 18, 1974, India conducted a 'peaceful nuclear explosion' at Pokharan using plutonium produced by the Cirus reactor, abruptly ending the era of international collaboration. India then refused to sign the NPT, which it viewed as discriminatory since it would be required to join as a non-nuclear weapons state. As a result of India's actions, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was created in 1975 to establish guidelines 'to apply to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities. These nuclear export controls have forced India to be largely self-sufficient in all nuclear-related technologies.},
doi = {10.2172/982345},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2009},
month = {1}
}

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