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February 19, 2011

Carnival of nuclear energy 40

Carnival of nuclear energy 40 is up at the ANS nuclear cafe

Nextbigfuture provided the review of the minimal amount of reactor certifications in the 36 years of history of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.



Brave New Climate looks at different scenarios for the nuclear fuel cycle

Consider four simplistic scenarios, highly idealized to emphasize the differing implications of possible approaches to recycling.

Case 1: 200 large light-water reactors (LWRs) operating on a once-through fuel cycle. This is consistent with some green-energy scenarios—a doubling of the current U. S. nuclear power-plant capacity.

* Uranium enrichment facilities that produce the equivalent of 100 T weapons-grade HEU per year. The material actually produced is not weapons-usable, but the enrichment facilities, if repro­grammed, could produce that much weapons material.

* Facilities to manage and dispose of the initial backlog of used LWR fuel plus an annually additional accumulation of used fuel containing 40 T of generally low-grade plutonium.


Case 2: 200 LWRs, with maximum feasible PUREX recycle.

* Uranium enrichment facilities; demand reduced by 20%;

* PUREX facility producing ~32 T per year of separated Pu. With selected feed-stock, some weapons-usable material could be recovered;

* Facilities to manage and dispose of the wastes from the PUREX facility, containing long lived nuclear wastes more toxic than those in the original used LWR fuel; and an annual accumulation of used MOX fuel elements containing 10+ T of generally low-grade plutonium.


Case 3: 200 LWRs operating once through, supplemented with an equal amount of power from fast reactors (FRs) with PYRO recycle.

* Enrichment situation unchanged from Case 1, but power production doubled;
* A facility for recovery of recyclable materials from used LWR fuel; No chemically pure plutonium is involved.
* PYRO facilities for recycling FR used fuel. No chemically pure plutonium is involved;
* Facilities to dispose of the residue from FR recycling, containing essentially no long lived nuclear wastes.


Case 4: 400 FRs with PYRO recycle, all LRWs having been phased out. This is not a realistic near-term scenario, but is included to illustrate potential long-term opportunities

* No enrichment facilities, unless part of a deliberate proliferation effort;
* PYRO facilities for recycling FR used fuel. No chemically pure plutonium is involved;
* Facilities to dispose of the residue from FR recycling, containing essentially no long lived nuclear wastes.


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