There has been a resurgence of interest in the possibility of processing the US spent nuclear fuel, instead of burying it in a geologic repository. Accordingly, key topical findings from three relevant EPRI evaluations made in the 1990-1995 timeframe are recapped and updated to accommodate a few developments over the subsequent ten years. Views recently expressed by other US entities are discussed.
This report presents the results of a dynamic simulation analysis for deployment of advanced light water reactors (LWRs) and fast burner reactors, as proposed by the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program. Conditions for the analysis were selected for their potential to challenge the nuclear fuel simulation codes that were used, due to the large variations in nuclear fuel composition for the burner reactors before equilibrium conditions are approached. The analysis was performed in a U.S.
Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Comparison Between Once-Through and Plutonium Multi-Recycling in Fast Reactors
This report presents results from a parametric study of equilibrium fuel cycle costs for a closed fuel cycle with multi-recycling of plutonium in fast reactors (FRs) compared to an open, once-through fuel cycle using PWRs. The study examines the impact on fuel cycle costs from changes in the unit costs of uranium, advanced PUREX reprocessing of discharged uranium dioxide (UO2) fuel and fast-reactor mixed-oxide (FR-MOX) fuel, and FR-MOX fuel fabrication.
This report presents the results of a critical review of the technological challenges to the growth of nuclear energy, emerging advanced technologies that would have to be deployed, and fuel cycle strategies that could conceivably involve interim storage, plutonium recycling in thermal and fast reactors, reprocessed uranium recycling, and transmutation of minor actinide elements and fission products before eventual disposal of residual wastes.
The characteristics of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste are described, and options for permanent disposal that have been considered are described. These include:
•disposal in a mined geological formation,
•disposal in a multinational repository, perhaps on an unoccupied island,
•by in situ melting, perhaps in underground nuclear test cavities,
•disposal in deep boreholes,
•disposal by melting through ice sheets or permafrost,
•disposal by sending the wastes into space, and
This report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), provides a comprehensive set of cost data supporting a cost analysis for the relative economic comparison of options for use in the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) Program. The report describes the AFCI cost basis development process, reference information on AFCI cost modules, a procedure for estimating fuel cycle costs, economic evaluation guidelines, and a discussion on the integration of cost data into economic computer models.
The comparison of different nuclear fuel cycle options has become an integral element to any analysis of the future prospects for nuclear energy, in the United States and around the world. Concerns for supply security and price volatility of fossil fuels, combined with growing resolve to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, have caused a general shift in attitudes towards nuclear energy. However, there are lingering sustainability concerns for nuclear energy – long term uranium supply and environmental impact – as well as concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The issue of interim storage of used (spent)1 fuel is dependent on a number of key factors, some
of which are not known at this time but are the subject of this study. The first is whether or not
the Yucca Mountain Project continues or is cancelled such that it may be able to receive spent
fuel from existing and decommissioned nuclear power stations. The second is whether the United
States will pursue a policy of reprocessing and recycling nuclear fuel. The reprocessing and
Identification, Description, and Characterization of Existing and Alternative Nuclear Energy Systems
Fundamentally, a nuclear energy system uses nuclear fission to create heat, which is then available for generating electricity or other applications, including seawater desalination, heating, and production of other fuels. The nuclear energy system as currently deployed in the United States, Figure 1, consists of a number of integrated components, beginning with the natural resources required for nuclear fuel, followed by fissioning of the fuel in reactors connected to electricity generation facilities, and ending with the disposition of all wastes, including used nuclear fuel (UNF).
Japan’s spent fuel management and fuel cycle programs are now at a critical stage. Its first commercial-scale reprocessing plant, at Rokkasho Village, will soon start full-scale operation.