Thorium fuels for light water reactors - steps towards commercialization
Doctoral thesis, 2015

Thorium-containing nuclear fuel is proposed as a means of gaining a number of benefits in the operation of light water reactors, some related to the nuclear properties of thorium and some related to the material properties of thorium dioxide. This thesis aims to investigate some of these benefits and to widen the knowledge base on thorium fuel behaviour, in order to pave the way for its commercial use. Part of the work is dedicated to finding ways of utilizing thorium in currently operating light water reactors which are beneficial to the reactor operator from a neutronic point of view. The effects of adding different fissile components to the fertile thorium matrix are compared, and the neutronic properties of the preferred alternative (plutonium) are more closely investigated. The possibility to use thorium as a minor component in conventional uranium dioxide fuel is also subject to study. Another part of the work is related to the thermal mechanical behaviour of thorium containing nuclear fuel under irradiation. To assess this behaviour, an irradiation experiment has been designed and is ongoing in the Halden research reactor. Existing software for prediction of thermal-mechanical fuel behaviour has been modified for application to mixed thorium and plutonium oxide fuel, and the preliminary simulation output is compared with irradiation data. The conclusion of the research conducted for this thesis is that the adoption of thorium containing fuel in light water reactors is indeed technically feasible and could also be attractive to reactor operators in a number of different aspects. Some steps have been taken towards a more complete knowledge of the behaviour of such fuel and therewith towards its commercial use.

Halden research reactor

light water reactors

fuel performance



neutronic simulations

Opponent: Massimo Salvatores


Klara L Insulander Björk

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Nuclear Engineering

Comparison of Thorium-Plutonium fuel and MOX fuel for PWRs

Proceedings of Global 2009,; (2009)

Paper in proceeding

Study of Thorium-Plutonium Fuel for Possible Operating Cycle Extension in PWRs

Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations,; Vol. 2013(2013)

Journal article

Irradiation of a Thorium-Plutonium Rodlet: Experiment and Benchmark Calculations

Progress in Nuclear Energy,; Vol. 66(2013)p. 73-79

Journal article

A BWR fuel assembly design for efficient use of plutonium in thorium–plutonium fuel

Progress in Nuclear Energy,; Vol. 65(2013)p. 56-63

Journal article


PHYSOR 2014 - The Role of Reactor Physics toward a Sustainable Future, Kyoto, Japan, September 28 - October 3, 2014,; (2014)

Paper in proceeding

Comparison of thorium-based fuels with different fissile components in existing boiling water reactors

Progress in Nuclear Energy,; Vol. 53(2011)p. 618-625

Journal article

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies

Areas of Advance




Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie


Opponent: Massimo Salvatores

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