India has revealed its plan for a new nuclear reactor design using the thorium fuel cycle.
The Advanced Heavy Water design differs from China's molten salt or liquid fluoride designs. But Indian scientists expect the AHW reactor to be operational before China's, certainly by 2020, and are confident enough to seek buyers for their existing PHWRs, or pressurised heavy water reactors, the Grauniad reports.
It's not so surprising, given India's long history of nuclear boffinry. The country's research programme was started by Homi Bhabha in 1944, with the nation's first reactor sparking into life in 1960. India also sits on the world's most abundant deposits of thorium.
Environmentalists have recently tempered some of their historically reflexive antagonism to nuclear power. Byrony Worthington, a climate-change activist who led civil servants in writing the Climate Change Act (a must-see video) recently started the Weinberg Foundation to promote thorium designs.
And the UK's official reaction?
In technical language, it can be summed up as "very interesting, now go away – we have windmills to build". Meanwhile an e-petition calling for greater investment in Thorium has acquired just 50 signatures. ®