Nuclear energy might very well get an alternative fuel if Oystein and his Norwegian team are successful in the testing of their thorium based fuel. They are mixing ceramic thorium oxide with plutonium oxide in a 90:10 ratio to create thorium-MOX. The thorium oxide acts as a matrix that holds the plutonium in place as they both fission into other elements.
Norway has great resources of thorium. According to a new report it is believed to have 120 times more energy than the country’s oil fund.
Company CEO Oystein Asphjell said the trial was "the beginning of a new era - not only for our company and our partners, but as an important evolutionary step in the nuclear power industry."
The eight pellets for this experiment were made by the European Commission's Institute for Transuranium Elements in Germany, part of the Joint Research Centre. The next phase of test pellets will be made in Norway and the subsequent 'fully proto-typical pellets' will be made by the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory.
When qualified, thorium-plutonium mixed-oxide fuel could be used in a wide range of today's commercial nuclear power plants, and so would offer another fuel option for the nuclear industry.
As Gizmodo put it: “This stuff could very well revolutionize nuclear power.”
The team centered around Thor Energy (owned by the Scatec Group) contains both Fortum and Westinghouse. Fortum owns and runs several nuclear power plants and Westinghouse developed the AP1000 reactor of which four are currently under construction in China.
Thorium Energy Conference attendees learned about this initiative already at ThEC11 in New York - The Norwegian Thorium Initiative by Oystein Asphjell from Thor Energy.
This Thorium Reactor Has the Power of a Norse God by Gizmodo
Thorium Test Begins by WNN