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Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Comparison Between Once-Through and Plutonium Single-Recycling in Pressurized Water Reactors

Electric Power Research Institute
Publication Date


Within the context of long-term waste management and sustainable nuclear fuel supply, there continue to be discussions regarding whether the United States should consider recycling of light-water reactor (LWR) spent nuclear fuel (SNF) for the current fleet of U.S. LWRs. This report presents a parametric study of equilibrium fuel cycle costs for an open fuel cycle without plutonium recycling (once-through) and with plutonium recycling (single-recycling using mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel), assuming an all-pressurized water reactor (PWR) fleet. The study examines the impact on fuel cycle costs from changes in the unit costs of uranium, plutonium and uranium recovery by extraction (PUREX) reprocessing, and MOX fuel fabrication. The study also describes the impact associated with changes in the unit costs of UO2 fuel (natural uranium, conversion, enrichment, and fabrication unit costs), compared to changes in the unit costs associated with MOX fuel (PUREX reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication).