UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

On the possibility of a small nuclear reactor application for energy supply of isolated communities in Northern Canada Plehanov, Aleksandr Vladimirovich


Isolated northern communities in Canada are currently satisfying their needs in energy using ineffective and environmentally unfriendly diesel generators. There has been long desire to find an alternative solution which would provide these settlements with electrical energy and heat inexpensively and with the least environmental impact. One possibility is to adopt a well-developed nuclear submarine reactor technology which has been used for the past 60 years. Most modern nuclear submarines use uranium-235 enriched up to 98% and allow operating the nuclear reactor without refueling for up to 25 years. The second option which offers many benefits, such as abundance and availability of cheaper fuel, greater anti-proliferation benefits as well as better safety, is the thorium option, a new approach, which has not been extensively researched and tested yet but which could offer attractive benefits once implemented. This thesis investigates a possibility of a small nuclear reactor application based on the research in the field of nuclear submarine technology for peaceful purposes and molten salt reactor experiment conducted by the Oak Ridge Lab, and compares uranium and thorium options with the currently used diesel generator technology. Fossil fuel scarcity and greenhouse effect of their use require finding alternative energy sources, and, nuclear technology provides such opportunity, especially, when highly enriched uranium is not available or difficult to obtain due to proliferation concerns. Thorium which is abundant, and is not currently in high demand or use, could be a great opportunity for the following reasons: (1) thorium is significantly cheaper and requires less processing than uranium; (2) thorium fuel could be used as a circulating liquid mixed with molten fluoride salts instead of using solid fuel elements which need special preparation; (3) the fluoride salts can be used as a reactor coolant due to their better chemical properties.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada