Reprocessing And Recycling Of Spent Nuclear Fuel Pdf

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Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Transmutation of transuranics TRUs and fission products that are recovered from spent fuel offers potential for improving the technology for long-term disposal of radioactive waste.

Nuclear fuel cycle

Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. Transmutation of transuranics TRUs and fission products that are recovered from spent fuel offers potential for improving the technology for long-term disposal of radioactive waste. This appendix addresses various economic issues related to the use of transmutation as a primary waste management strategy, focusing primarily on future reprocessing costs under various plant ownership and financing arrangements.

It also addresses the substantial institutional barriers that would inhibit private-sector financing of such a strategy in the United States. The nuclear industry of the early s was characterized by rapidly increasing worldwide demand for generating commercial nuclear power capacity, rising uranium prices, and an impending shortage of uranium enrichment capacity. There was a consensus within the nuclear community that spent reactor fuel would be reprocessed to recover residual uranium and plutonium for recycle in light-water reactors LWRs and ultimately to fuel breeder reactors.

Projected reprocessing costs were low, and there appeared to be an urgent need to reduce the rapidly increasing demand for virgin uranium in order to stem rising prices and prepare for early introduction of breeders.

Reprocessing and uranium and plutonium recycle in LWRs was expected to reduce total fuel-cycle cost relative to a once-through fuel-management scheme.

Spent fuel was expected to be reprocessed within approximately 6 months following discharge from the reactor, so that recovered uranium and plutonium could be returned to the reactor with minimal delay. Through the late s, the U. Two commercial facilities for reprocessing LWR spent fuel were constructed. The General Electric. However, neither plant went into commercial service. The year period of nuclear optimism began to wane in about with growing public apprehension over the possibility of a major nuclear accident.

This in turn prompted criticism of the AEC, which had the dual responsibilities for developing and promoting nuclear power and for regulating its implementation in the private sector. NEPA added a requirement for the preparation of an environmental impact statement for all new major facilities, with provisions for public hearings on the statement before a construction permit could be issued.

Public dissatisfaction with AEC management of nuclear issues heightened with the revelations attending the cancellation of the planned high-level waste HLW repository near Lyons, Kansas.

The public became aware that an approved waste repository site had not yet been secured to receive the steadily increasing quantity of spent fuel, as well as HLW from defense operations. In the Ford administration divided the AEC into two new organizations that separated the responsibilities for nuclear development and regulation. At the same time, Congress disbanded the powerful Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and reassigned its responsibilities among several congressional committees.

A new public concern arose when India tested a ''peaceful nuclear explosion" in , rekindling an earlier controversy over the postulated link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons proliferation. This concern was heightened by the revelation that the Indian nuclear explosive contained nuclear weapons material produced in a reactor that was sold to India by Canada.

The Indian nuclear test made it necessary for many nations, including several developing countries, to acquire their own facilities to enrich uranium or recover plutonium from spent reactor fuel. The growing controversy associated with the widespread commercial use of plutonium recycle came to a head in the highly contentious hearings on the Generic Environmental Statement on Mixed Oxide GESMO fuel, which the NRC had begun in late and which the Carter administration finally canceled in In , the Carter administration completed a review, begun by the Ford administration, of the plans to commercialize the breeder reactor and engage in plutonium recycle in the United States.

In addition to placing greater emphasis on nonproliferation concerns, this review was based on projections of the growth in electric power demand that were much lower than the earlier projections of the AEC up to the mids. This reappraisal soon led to cancellation of breeder commercialization and plutonium recycle, leaving the Barnwell reprocessing plant without an operating license or a mission.

From to , the United States joined other nations in the International Fuel Cycle Evaluation to reconsider the commercial use of plutonium. The U. Congress passed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of , which placed restraints on foreign reprocessing of nuclear fuel of U.

Several nations took issue with the change in nuclear ground rules implemented unilaterally by the United States. However, most ultimately agreed that steps to limit reprocessing and recycle would be prudent, although they retained reprocessing as a long-term option. The International Fuel Cycle Evaluation also reached agreement that spent fuel itself was a waste form that could be safely disposed of in a waste repository. Indeed, by , the United States was strongly recommending that course, which was adopted and further promoted by several other nations, notably Sweden, that had small nuclear programs.

However, the European reprocessors and Japan continued their plans to reprocess spent fuel from commercial reactors and to store the separated plutonium pending further development of their breeder programs.

When the U. The principal factors precluding the resumption of commercial reprocessing in the United States were as follows:. There was widespread cancellation of orders for new U. There was greatly increased worldwide uranium ore reserves as a result of major discoveries in Australia in the late s and in Canada in the early s. The introduction of commercial gas centrifuge enrichment technology, completion of the Eurodiff gaseous diffusion plant, and the absence of new orders for U.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of provided no economic incentive for HLW vitrifications as opposed to direct disposal of spent fuel. Indeed, the disposal of spent fuel in a geologic repository remained the Department of Energy DOE policy, in conformance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of The capital cost of breeder reactors relative to LWRs proved to be higher than had been projected in the early s, and the unit cost of fabricating MOX LWR and liquid-metal reactor LMR fuel also proved higher than projected, exhibiting a steady increase with time.

Large-scale deployment of commercial breeder reactors, once envisioned to begin as early as the s, was delayed indefinitely. It now appears that the need for an LMR to forestall rising uranium costs may not occur until the second half of the next century, or later. The estimated cost to construct and operate commercial reprocessing plants increased due to several factors, including new regulations requiring containment of radioactive gases and solidification of the plutonium product, as well as the industry's recognition that fuel reprocessing should be treated as a high-risk venture, thereby increasing plant financing cost.

There was a lack of a clear economic incentive for reprocessing and closure of the LWR fuel cycle as a result of the above events. Reprocessing and recycle of plutonium would have required reopening of the contentious GESMO hearings. These formidable barriers to reprocessing led U. This reduced the fissile uranium and plutonium content of the spent fuel, further reducing the incentive to reprocess. Foreign interest in reprocessing continued, however, as those nations with limited economically recoverable domestic uranium resources saw reprocessing as an opportunity to reduce the increasing demand for uranium imports.

Their analysis included a credit for both the uranium and the plutonium recovered through reprocessing. Those countries that chose to reprocess their nuclear fuel based their decision on a number of factors other than cost. With limited natural uranium resources, they have a strong interest in being self-sufficient in energy production.

They also take a longer-term look than the "what are the profits in the next quarter" attitude of many of the decisions made in the United States. This led them to a strategy that included recovery and recycle of uranium and plutonium from spent fuel and vitrifying the HLW produced as a solid waste form for interim storage until a permanent waste repository is in operation. Recycling and transmuting TRUs and fission products requires reprocessing.

While transmutation proponents claim that this can be done as economically as a once-through fuel cycle, the cost of reprocessing is a key factor in the cost of transmutation. Marshaling the management, technical, and financial resources to design, construct, and operate the reprocessing plants and specialty reactors to recycle and transmute TRUs and fission products is influenced by a number of major issues.

These issues apply not only to centralized, large-scale reprocessing plants but also to smaller onsite reprocessing plants, transmutation reactors, and an integrated complex of reprocessing plants and transmutation reactors. Overcoming these barriers will be a formidable challenge. While pyroprocessing technology is being considered for reprocessing spent fuel that is associated with transmutation of TRUs, this technology is not sufficiently mature that reliable reprocessing-plant capital and operating cost estimates can be prepared.

Moreover, it is by no means certain that pyroprocessing will prove more economical than conventional aqueous reprocessing, for which the technology is relatively mature. The capital costs developed in this section, and the operating costs developed in the section Reprocessing-Plant Operating Costs are therefore based on aqueous reprocessing technology.

THORP services include fuel receipt and interim storage; reprocessing including conversion of uranium and plutonium to oxide ; HLW vitrification and intermediate storage; intermediate-level waste encapsulation, interim storage, and disposal; and low-level waste LLW disposal.

The reprocessing-plant capital and operating costs used in this appendix are based on this scope of services. Uematsu private communication, This cost excludes interest during construction since the plant was financed through up-front payments by THORP customers. UP3 is the most recent addition to the large French reprocessing complex at La Hague.

UP3 has been in operation since , providing complete services that range from spent-fuel storage through HLW vitrification. COGEMA also reported that the design and construction of UP3 required 25 million engineering man-hours and 56 million man-hours of field construction Reprocessing News , While no information was provided on the cost of equipment,. Japan Nuclear Fuel, Ltd. It is scheduled for operation in The technology is primarily French, with U.

This facility provides complete services, including HLW vitrification and storage for 8, waste canisters. Despite the lessons learned on the design and construction of the UP3 and THORP reprocessing plants, the constant dollar capital cost at Rokkashomura has not decreased significantly relative to these earlier plants.

Because of the particularly stringent seismic design requirements in Japan, the cost of a facility of comparable capacity would probably be less in a region of lower seismicity.

Examples include the following:. The study for a generic U. These costs assumed a mature. This cost also includes facilities for MOX fuel fabrication services. As in the Gingold et al. The capital costs estimated in the first two of the above studies are substantially below those experienced in the construction and operation of actual plants.

Assuming that reprocessing plant capital costs are proportional to the 0. These estimates are far below the reported capital costs of actual plants. More important, they indicate an inverse economy of scale with plant throughput, which has not been observed or predicted in other studies. Based on the above information, the committee concludes that reported capital costs for actual contemporary plants currently provide the most reliable basis for estimating the cost of future plants.

Estimated capital costs reported in recent U. Table J-2 summarizes the capital costs reported for the above commercial facilities, as well as costs reported in more recent studies. Costs in year-end dollars were developed using historical escalation rates in the United States over the period that the plants were under construction.

Costs expressed in foreign currencies were converted to U. Since both the THORP and UP3 plants were financed largely through customer prepayments, it is the committee's understanding that the capital costs quoted in Table J-2 for these facilities do not include interest during construction. Financing costs for reprocessing plants are large because of the relatively long construction schedules.

Rokkashomura construction started in and is scheduled for completion in 8 years. Preconstruction activities such as siting studies, permitting, and that portion of the engineering performed prior to construction start typically require an additional 2 to 3 years or more.

Other facilities, such as the spent-fuel storage ponds, waste vitrification facility, and intermediate-level waste storage facility, had shorter schedules ranging from 5 to 8 years. The committee estimated the total cost of interest during construction by summing the financing cost for each of the major facilities.

Reprocessing and Recycling of Spent Nuclear Fuel

A key, nearly unique, characteristic of nuclear energy is that used fuel may be reprocessed to recover fissile and fertile materials in order to provide fresh fuel for existing and future nuclear power plants. Several European countries, Russia, China and Japan have policies to reprocess used nuclear fuel, although government policies in many other countries have not yet come round to seeing used fuel as a resource rather than a waste. This contributes to national energy security. A secondary reason is to reduce the volume of material to be disposed of as high-level waste to about one-fifth. In addition, the level of radioactivity in the waste from reprocessing is much smaller and after about years falls much more rapidly than in used fuel itself.

There is constant debate about whether conventional reprocessing and recycling that is, the closed fuel cycle should be commercially deployed, given the sensitive processes inherent in these aspects of the fuel cycle. As technologies become more widely available, the debate increasingly circulates around which states are already incorporating these aspects of the fuel cycle, which states intend to do so, and whether these policies pose problems for the international community. Numerous reports have compared conventional reprocessing technologies, but as each one points out, it is tremendously difficult to create a uniform system of analysis or baseline for comparison. In hopes of contributing an additional perspective to the conversation, Appendix III approaches the civil back-end fuel cycle issue by outlining national policies and providing commentary on the leaders in conventional reprocessing as well as advanced chemical partitioning technology; Appendix IV presents a more detailed discussion of the program in China. The motivations behind conventional reprocessing—that is, PUREX plutonium-uranium extraction and fabrication of the uranium-plutonium product streams into MOX fresh fuel—have evolved along with the technology.

Recycling versus Long-Term Storage of Nuclear Fuel: Economic Factors

Electricity Policy and Economics. Other Issues Critical to Chinese Decisionmaking. Ultimately, most critical decisions have been made by the leadership of the Chinese state and the Communist Party of China. China committed to generating electricity using nuclear fission energy with two significant steps.

To compete and thrive in the 21st century, democracies, and the United States in particular, must develop new national security and economic strategies that address the geopolitics of information. In this century, democracies must better account for information geopolitics across all dimensions of domestic policy and national strategy. This process has to be examined in the context of the current strategic competition between China and the U.

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  2. Keira H. 23.04.2021 at 14:45

    Nuclear reprocessing is the chemical separation of fission products and unused uranium from spent nuclear fuel.