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Title: Plutonium: Advancing our Understanding to Support Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles

Abstract

With Global energy needs increasing, real energy solutions to meet demands now, are needed. Fossil fuels are not an ideal candidate to meet these needs because of their negative impact on the environment. Renewables such as wind and solar have huge potential, but still need major technological advancements (particularly in the area of battery storage) before they can effectively meet growing world needs. The best option for meeting large energy needs without a large carbon footprint is nuclear energy. Of course, nuclear energy can face a fair amount of opposition and concern. However, through modern engineering and science many of these concerns can now be addressed. Many safety concerns can be met by engineering advancements, but perhaps the biggest area of concern is what to do with the used nuclear fuel after it is removed from the reactor. Currently the United States (and several other countries) utilize an open fuel cycle, meaning fuel is only used once and then discarded. It should be noted that fuel coming out of a reactor has utilized approximately 1% of the total energy that could be produced by the uranium in the fuel rod. The answer here is to close the fuel cycle andmore » recycle the nuclear materials. By reprocessing used nuclear fuel, all the U can be repurposed without requiring disposal. The various fission products can be removed and either discarded (hugely reduced waste volume) or more reasonably, utilized in specialty reactors to make more energy or needed research/medical isotopes. While reprocessing technology is currently advanced enough to meet energy needs, completing research to improve and better understand these techniques is still needed. Better understanding behavior of fission products is one area of important research. Despite it being discovered over 75 years ago, plutonium is still an exciting element to study because of the complex solution chemistry it exhibits. In aqueous solutions Pu can exist simultaneously in multiple oxidation states, including 3+, 4+, and 6+. It also readily forms a variety of metal-ligand complexes depending on solution pH and available ligands. Understanding of the behavior of Pu in solution remains an important area of research today, with relevance to developing sustainable nuclear fuel cycles, minimizing its impact on the environment, and detecting and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technology.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1439000
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-132760
AF5805010
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Science Trends, (March 7, 2018)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Lines, Amanda M., Adami, Susan R., and Casella, Amanda. Plutonium: Advancing our Understanding to Support Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles. United States: N. p., 2018. Web.
Lines, Amanda M., Adami, Susan R., & Casella, Amanda. Plutonium: Advancing our Understanding to Support Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles. United States.
Lines, Amanda M., Adami, Susan R., and Casella, Amanda. Wed . "Plutonium: Advancing our Understanding to Support Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_1439000,
title = {Plutonium: Advancing our Understanding to Support Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles},
author = {Lines, Amanda M. and Adami, Susan R. and Casella, Amanda},
abstractNote = {With Global energy needs increasing, real energy solutions to meet demands now, are needed. Fossil fuels are not an ideal candidate to meet these needs because of their negative impact on the environment. Renewables such as wind and solar have huge potential, but still need major technological advancements (particularly in the area of battery storage) before they can effectively meet growing world needs. The best option for meeting large energy needs without a large carbon footprint is nuclear energy. Of course, nuclear energy can face a fair amount of opposition and concern. However, through modern engineering and science many of these concerns can now be addressed. Many safety concerns can be met by engineering advancements, but perhaps the biggest area of concern is what to do with the used nuclear fuel after it is removed from the reactor. Currently the United States (and several other countries) utilize an open fuel cycle, meaning fuel is only used once and then discarded. It should be noted that fuel coming out of a reactor has utilized approximately 1% of the total energy that could be produced by the uranium in the fuel rod. The answer here is to close the fuel cycle and recycle the nuclear materials. By reprocessing used nuclear fuel, all the U can be repurposed without requiring disposal. The various fission products can be removed and either discarded (hugely reduced waste volume) or more reasonably, utilized in specialty reactors to make more energy or needed research/medical isotopes. While reprocessing technology is currently advanced enough to meet energy needs, completing research to improve and better understand these techniques is still needed. Better understanding behavior of fission products is one area of important research. Despite it being discovered over 75 years ago, plutonium is still an exciting element to study because of the complex solution chemistry it exhibits. In aqueous solutions Pu can exist simultaneously in multiple oxidation states, including 3+, 4+, and 6+. It also readily forms a variety of metal-ligand complexes depending on solution pH and available ligands. Understanding of the behavior of Pu in solution remains an important area of research today, with relevance to developing sustainable nuclear fuel cycles, minimizing its impact on the environment, and detecting and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technology.},
doi = {},
journal = {Science Trends, (March 7, 2018)},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Mar 07 00:00:00 EST 2018},
month = {Wed Mar 07 00:00:00 EST 2018}
}