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August 20, 2013

Fuel Cycle Costs for the major types of nuclear reactors

David Le Blanc's extra slides for his Molten Salt reactor talk had breakdowns of the fuel cycle costs for each of the major types of nuclear reactors.

LWR (Light Water Reactor) Fuel Cycle Costs
All assume 100$/kg Uranium and 150$/kg SWU (enrichment)
• Light Water Reactor(per Gwe)
• 20M$ Uranium(200 Tonnes, 100$/kg)
• 20M$ Enrichment
• 10M$ Fuel Fabrication
• Annual Fuel Cost 0.6 cents/kwh
• But must pay off initial fuel load
– 3 to 5 Tonnes U235 + Fabrication
– ~200M$ = 0.26 c/kwh (10% Discount Rate)
Total Fuel Cycle ~ 0.86 cents/kwh

Size of Heat Exchangers for different types of nuclear reactors




Fast Breeder Fuel Cycle Costs
• Sodium Fast Breeder
• Capex of reprocessing equipment???
• Fabrication costs?
• Looking only at the initial load of fissile*
• Need ~ 18 Tonnes Reactor Grade Pu (12 T fissile)
– 100$/gram= 1.8 B$ = 2.3 c/kwh
• Or start on ~ 20 TU235 at 50$/g = 1.25 c/kwh
– 20 years worth of U235 for a LWR
– Over a hundred years worth for a DMSR
• This does ignore Pu production credit but processing costs must be factored in
• IFR or TWR are about half traditional FBR startup

MSBR (molten salt breeder) Fuel Cycle Costs
Estimate based on ORNL (Oak Ridge National Lab) 4541 and 4812 (1972) and 7.5 times “nuclear” inflation
Old 75% capacity factor but new 10% discount rate (ORNL was 13.5%)

• Single Fluid Graphite Breeder(MSBR 1970s)
• 1500 kg/GWe starting fissile load
• 150 M$ fissile 100$/gU233 or Pu= 0.23 c/kwh
• Annual and startup Thorium= negligible
• Starting and makeup salt = 0.07 cents/kwh
– Enriched Lithium costs an unknown factor but likely low impact
• 10 day processing cycle
• Processing Plant Cap +Op
– ORNL 4541, 100M$ 0.16 cents/kwh
– ORNL 4812, 260M$ 0.4 c/kwh
• Sounds high but still only 5$/kg of salt processed
– PUREX is 1000$/kg
Total Fuel Cycle = 0.46 to 0.7 cents/kwh
– Large Processing cost uncertainty

MSFR (Molten Salt Fast Reactor) Fuel Cycle Costs
Estimate based on ORNL 4541 and 4812 and 7.5 times “nuclear” inflation
Old 75% capacity factor but new 10% discount rate (ORNL was 13.5%)
• Fast Spectrum(MSFR 2005 to present)
• 5.5 T/GWe, 6 month processing time
• 550 M$ fissile 100$/g U233 or Pu= 0.85 c/kwh
• Less starting and makeup salt = 0.03 cents/kwh
• Processing Plant Cap +Op
– Much lower rate (1/18th MSBR) but economy of scale lost?
– Also need process blanket salt
– ~0.1 cents/kwh? Perhaps much higher?
• Total Fuel Cycle ~ 1 cent/kwh
– Again large cost uncertainty

DMSR (Denatured Molten Salt Reactor) Fuel Cycle Costs
Estimate based on ORNL 4541 and 4812 and 7.5 times “nuclear” inflation
Old 75% capacity factor but new 10% discount rate (ORNLwas 13.5%)
• Single Fluid Graphite Converter(DMSR 1980)
• Runs off Thorium plus Low Enriched Uranium
• 3450 kg/GWe starting fissile, No processing
• 175 M$ fissile 50$/g U235= 0.26 c/kwh
• Annual and startup Thorium= negligible
• More carrier salt = 0.14 cents/kwh
– Converter able to use inexpensive alternate salts
• Average Conversion Ratio 0.8 over 30 years
– ~150 kg/year U235 (in LEU)
– 50$/g = 7.8M$/year = 0.12 cents/kwh

Total Fuel Cycle = 0.52 cents/kwh
– Very little uncertainty
– 9 T of Pu (IFR startup) would start and run for over 30 years
– Great potential for improvement



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