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Title: Opportunities for the Multi Recycling of Used MOX Fuel in the US - 12122

Abstract

Over the last 50 years the US has accumulated an inventory of used nuclear fuel (UNF) in the region of 64,000 metric tons in 2010, and adds an additional 2,200 metric tons each year from the current fleet of 104 Light Water Reactors. This paper considers a fuel cycle option that would be available for a future pilot U.S. recycling plant that could take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the age and size of the large U.S. UNF inventory. For the purpose of this scenario, recycling of UNF must use the available reactor infrastructure, currently LWR's, and the main product of recycling is considered to be plutonium (Pu), recycled into MOX fuel for use in these reactors. Use of MOX fuels must provide the service (burn-up) expected by the reactor operator, with the required level of safety. To do so, the fissile material concentration (Pu-239, Pu-241) in the MOX must be high enough to maintain criticality, while, in current recycle facilities, the Pu-238 content has to be kept low enough to prevent excessive heat load, neutron emission, and neutron capture during recycle operations. In most countries, used MOX fuel (MOX UNF) is typically stored after one irradiation inmore » an LWR, pending the development of the GEN IV reactors, since it is considered difficult to directly reuse the recycled MOX fuel in LWRs due to the degraded Pu fissile isotopic composition. In the US, it is possible to blend MOX UNF with LEUOx UNF from the large inventory, using the oldest UNF first. Blending at the ratio of about one MOX UNF assembly with 15 LEUOx UNF assemblies, would achieve a fissile plutonium concentration sufficient for reirradiation in new MOX fuel. The Pu-238 yield in the new fuel will be sufficiently low to meet current fuel fabrication standards. Therefore, it should be possible in the context of the US, for discharged MOX fuel to be recycled back into LWR's, using only technologies already industrially deployed worldwide. Building on that possibility, two scenarios are assessed where current US inventory is treated; Pu recycled in LWR MOX fuels, and used MOX fuels themselves are treated in a continuous partitioning-transmutation mode (case 2a) or until the whole current UNF inventory (64,000 MT in 2010) has been treated followed by disposal of the MOX UNF to a geologic repository (case 2b). In the recycling scenario, two cases (2a and 2b) are considered. Benefits achieved are compared with the once through scenario (case 1) where UNF in the current US inventory are disposed directly to a geologic repository. For each scenario, the heat load and radioactivity of the high activity wastes disposed to a geologic repository are calculated and the savings in natural resources quantified, and compared with the once-through fuel cycle. Assuming an initial pilot recycling facility with a capacity of 800 metric tons a year of heavy metal begins operation in 2030, ∼8 metric tons per year of Pu is recovered from the LEUOx UNF inventory, and is used to produce fresh MOX fuels. At a later time, additional treatment and recycling capacities are assumed to begin operation, to accommodate blending and recycling of used MOX Pu, up to 2,400 MT/yr treatment capacity to enable processing UNF slightly faster than the rate of generation. Results of this scenario analysis study show the flexibility of the recycling scenarios so that Pu is managed in a way that avoids accumulating used MOX fuels. If at some future date, the decision is made to dispose of the MOX UNF to a geologic repository (case 2b), the scenario is neutral to final repository heat load in comparison to the direct disposal of all UNF (case 1), while diminishing use of natural uranium, enrichment, UNF accumulation, and the volume of HLW. Further recycling of Pu at the end of the scenario (case 2a) would exhibit further benefits. As expected, Pu-241 and Am-241 are the source of long term HLW heat load and Am-241 and Np-237 are the source of long term radiotoxicity. When advanced technology is available, introduction of minor actinide recycling, in addition to Pu recycling, by the end of this scenario, or sooner, would have a major impact on final repository heat load and long term radiotoxicity of the HLW. This scenario is also compatible with a gradual introduction of a small number of FR's for Pu management. (authors)« less

Authors:
 [1]; ; ; ; ;  [2];  [3]
  1. AREVA Federal Services LLC, 4800 Hampden Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814 (United States)
  2. AREVA NC, 33, rue La Fayette, 75 442 Paris Cedex 09 (France)
  3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge TN, 37831-6152 (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9-332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
22293437
Report Number(s):
INIS-US-14-WM-12122
TRN: US14V1091114961
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM2012: Waste Management 2012 conference on improving the future in waste management, Phoenix, AZ (United States), 26 Feb - 1 Mar 2012; Other Information: Country of input: France; 3 refs.
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; AMERICIUM 241; FISSILE MATERIALS; FUEL CYCLE; HEAVY METALS; HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES; IRRADIATION; MIXED OXIDE FUELS; NEPTUNIUM 237; NEUTRON EMISSION; PLUTONIUM; PLUTONIUM 238; PLUTONIUM 239; PLUTONIUM 241; RADIOACTIVITY; RECYCLING; SAFETY

Citation Formats

Murray, P., Bailly, F., Bouvier, E., Gain, T., Lelievre, F., Senentz, G.H., and Collins, E. Opportunities for the Multi Recycling of Used MOX Fuel in the US - 12122. United States: N. p., 2012. Web.
Murray, P., Bailly, F., Bouvier, E., Gain, T., Lelievre, F., Senentz, G.H., & Collins, E. Opportunities for the Multi Recycling of Used MOX Fuel in the US - 12122. United States.
Murray, P., Bailly, F., Bouvier, E., Gain, T., Lelievre, F., Senentz, G.H., and Collins, E. Sun . "Opportunities for the Multi Recycling of Used MOX Fuel in the US - 12122". United States.
@article{osti_22293437,
title = {Opportunities for the Multi Recycling of Used MOX Fuel in the US - 12122},
author = {Murray, P. and Bailly, F. and Bouvier, E. and Gain, T. and Lelievre, F. and Senentz, G.H. and Collins, E.},
abstractNote = {Over the last 50 years the US has accumulated an inventory of used nuclear fuel (UNF) in the region of 64,000 metric tons in 2010, and adds an additional 2,200 metric tons each year from the current fleet of 104 Light Water Reactors. This paper considers a fuel cycle option that would be available for a future pilot U.S. recycling plant that could take advantage of the unique opportunities offered by the age and size of the large U.S. UNF inventory. For the purpose of this scenario, recycling of UNF must use the available reactor infrastructure, currently LWR's, and the main product of recycling is considered to be plutonium (Pu), recycled into MOX fuel for use in these reactors. Use of MOX fuels must provide the service (burn-up) expected by the reactor operator, with the required level of safety. To do so, the fissile material concentration (Pu-239, Pu-241) in the MOX must be high enough to maintain criticality, while, in current recycle facilities, the Pu-238 content has to be kept low enough to prevent excessive heat load, neutron emission, and neutron capture during recycle operations. In most countries, used MOX fuel (MOX UNF) is typically stored after one irradiation in an LWR, pending the development of the GEN IV reactors, since it is considered difficult to directly reuse the recycled MOX fuel in LWRs due to the degraded Pu fissile isotopic composition. In the US, it is possible to blend MOX UNF with LEUOx UNF from the large inventory, using the oldest UNF first. Blending at the ratio of about one MOX UNF assembly with 15 LEUOx UNF assemblies, would achieve a fissile plutonium concentration sufficient for reirradiation in new MOX fuel. The Pu-238 yield in the new fuel will be sufficiently low to meet current fuel fabrication standards. Therefore, it should be possible in the context of the US, for discharged MOX fuel to be recycled back into LWR's, using only technologies already industrially deployed worldwide. Building on that possibility, two scenarios are assessed where current US inventory is treated; Pu recycled in LWR MOX fuels, and used MOX fuels themselves are treated in a continuous partitioning-transmutation mode (case 2a) or until the whole current UNF inventory (64,000 MT in 2010) has been treated followed by disposal of the MOX UNF to a geologic repository (case 2b). In the recycling scenario, two cases (2a and 2b) are considered. Benefits achieved are compared with the once through scenario (case 1) where UNF in the current US inventory are disposed directly to a geologic repository. For each scenario, the heat load and radioactivity of the high activity wastes disposed to a geologic repository are calculated and the savings in natural resources quantified, and compared with the once-through fuel cycle. Assuming an initial pilot recycling facility with a capacity of 800 metric tons a year of heavy metal begins operation in 2030, ∼8 metric tons per year of Pu is recovered from the LEUOx UNF inventory, and is used to produce fresh MOX fuels. At a later time, additional treatment and recycling capacities are assumed to begin operation, to accommodate blending and recycling of used MOX Pu, up to 2,400 MT/yr treatment capacity to enable processing UNF slightly faster than the rate of generation. Results of this scenario analysis study show the flexibility of the recycling scenarios so that Pu is managed in a way that avoids accumulating used MOX fuels. If at some future date, the decision is made to dispose of the MOX UNF to a geologic repository (case 2b), the scenario is neutral to final repository heat load in comparison to the direct disposal of all UNF (case 1), while diminishing use of natural uranium, enrichment, UNF accumulation, and the volume of HLW. Further recycling of Pu at the end of the scenario (case 2a) would exhibit further benefits. As expected, Pu-241 and Am-241 are the source of long term HLW heat load and Am-241 and Np-237 are the source of long term radiotoxicity. When advanced technology is available, introduction of minor actinide recycling, in addition to Pu recycling, by the end of this scenario, or sooner, would have a major impact on final repository heat load and long term radiotoxicity of the HLW. This scenario is also compatible with a gradual introduction of a small number of FR's for Pu management. (authors)},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {7}
}

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