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Title: On-Going Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options

Abstract

This paper summarizes the current comprehensive comparison of four major fuel cycle strategies: once-through, thermal recycle, thermal+fast recycle, fast recycle. It then proceeds to summarize comparison of the major technology options for the key elements of the fuel cycle that can implement each of the four strategies - separation processing, transmutation reactors, and fuels.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID; U.S. Department of Energy; Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States); Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL; Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
839342
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Americas Nuclear Energy Symposium (ANES 2004), Miami, FL (US), 10/03/2004--10/06/2004; Other Information: PBD: 3 Oct 2004
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; FUEL CYCLE; NUCLEAR ENERGY; PROCESSING; TRANSMUTATION; NUCLEAR FUELS; SPENT FUELS; AFCI PROGRAM; ADVANCED FUEL CYCLE; GEOLOGIC REPOSITORIES; SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL DISPOSAL

Citation Formats

Piet, S.J., Bennett, R.G., Dixon, B.W., Herring, J.S., Shropshire, D.E., Roth, M., Smith, J.D., Finck, P., Hill, R., Laidler, J., and Pasamehmetoglu, K. On-Going Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options. United States: N. p., 2004. Web.
Piet, S.J., Bennett, R.G., Dixon, B.W., Herring, J.S., Shropshire, D.E., Roth, M., Smith, J.D., Finck, P., Hill, R., Laidler, J., & Pasamehmetoglu, K. On-Going Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options. United States.
Piet, S.J., Bennett, R.G., Dixon, B.W., Herring, J.S., Shropshire, D.E., Roth, M., Smith, J.D., Finck, P., Hill, R., Laidler, J., and Pasamehmetoglu, K. Sun . "On-Going Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/839342.
@article{osti_839342,
title = {On-Going Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options},
author = {Piet, S.J. and Bennett, R.G. and Dixon, B.W. and Herring, J.S. and Shropshire, D.E. and Roth, M. and Smith, J.D. and Finck, P. and Hill, R. and Laidler, J. and Pasamehmetoglu, K.},
abstractNote = {This paper summarizes the current comprehensive comparison of four major fuel cycle strategies: once-through, thermal recycle, thermal+fast recycle, fast recycle. It then proceeds to summarize comparison of the major technology options for the key elements of the fuel cycle that can implement each of the four strategies - separation processing, transmutation reactors, and fuels.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Oct 03 00:00:00 EDT 2004},
month = {Sun Oct 03 00:00:00 EDT 2004}
}

Conference:
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  • The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) program is addressing key issues associated with critical national needs. This paper compares the major options with these major “outcome” objectives - waste geological repository capacity and cost, energy security and sustainability, proliferation resistance, fuel cycle economics, and safety as well as “process” objectives associated with readiness to proceed and adaptability and robustness in the face of uncertainties. Working together, separation, transmutation, and fuel technologies provide complete energy systems that can improve waste management compared to the current “once-through/no separation” approach. Future work will further increase confidence in potential solutions, optimize solutions for themore » mixtures of objectives, and develop attractive development and deployment paths for selected options. This will allow the nation to address nearer-term issues such as avoiding the need for additional geological repositories while making nuclear energy a more sustainable energy option for the long-term. While the Generation IV Initiative is exploring multiple reactor options for future nuclear energy for both electricity generation and additional applications, the AFCI is assessing fuel cycles options for either a continuation or expansion of nuclear energy in the United States. This report compares strategies and technology options for managing the associated spent fuel. There are four major potential strategies, as follows: · The current U.S. strategy is once through: standard nuclear power plants, standard fuel burnup, direct geological disposal of spent fuel. Variants include higher burnup fuels in water-cooled power plants, once-through gas-cooled power plants, and separation (without recycling) of spent fuel to reduce the number and cost of geological waste packages. · The second strategy is thermal recycle, recycling some fuel components in thermal reactors. This strategy extends the useful life of the geologic repository, producing energy from the fissile transuranics in spent fuel while reducing plutonium. · The third strategy is thermal+fast recycle. The difference from the second strategy is that more components of spent fuel can be recycled to reduce both fissile and non-fissile transuranics, but at the cost of developing and deploying at least one fast reactor or accelerator driven system. A mix of thermal and fast reactors would implement this strategy. · The fourth strategy is pure fast recycle; fuel would not be recycled in thermal reactors, which would be phased out in favor of deploying fast spectrum power reactors.« less
  • The nuclear fuel cycle includes mining, enrichment, nuclear power plants, recycling (if done), and residual waste disposition. The U.S. Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) has four program objectives to guide research on how best to glue these pieces together, as follows: waste management, proliferation resistance, energy recovery, and systematic management/economics/safety. We have developed a comprehensive set of metrics to evaluate fuel cycle options against the four program objectives. The current list of metrics is long-term heat, long-term dose, radiotoxicity and weapons usable material. This paper describes the current metrics and initial results from comparisons made using these metrics. The datamore » presented were developed using a combination of “static” calculations and a system dynamic model, DYMOND. In many cases, we examine the same issue both dynamically and statically to determine the robustness of the observations. All analyses are for the U.S. reactor fleet. This work aims to clarify many of the issues being discussed within the AFCI program, including Inert Matrix Fuel (IMF) versus Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel, single-pass versus multi-pass recycling, thermal versus fast reactors, and the value of separating cesium and strontium. The results from a series of dynamic simulations evaluating these options are included in this report. The model interface includes a few “control knobs” for flying or piloting the fuel cycle system into the future. The results from the simulations show that the future is dark (uncertain) and that the system is sluggish with slow time response times to changes (i.e., what types of reactors are built, what types of fuels are used, and the capacity of separation and fabrication plants). Piloting responsibilities are distributed among utilities, government, and regulators, compounding the challenge of making the entire system work and respond to changing circumstances. We identify four approaches that would increase our chances of a sustainable fuel cycle system: (1) have a recycle strategy that could be implemented before the 2030-2050 approximate period when current reactors retire so that replacement reactors fit into the strategy, (2) establish an option such as multi-pass blended-core IMF as a downward Pu control knob and accumulate waste management benefits early, (3) establish fast reactors with flexible conversion ratio as a future control knob that slowly becomes available if/when fast reactors are added to the fleet, and (4) expand exploration of heterogeneous assemblies and cores, which appear to have advantages such as increased agility. Initial results suggest multi-pass full-core MOX appears to be a less effective way than multi-pass blended core IMF to manage the fuel cycle system because it requires higher TRU throughput while accruing waste management benefits at a slower rate. Single-pass recycle approaches for LWRs do not meet AFCI program objectives and could be considered a “dead end.” We did not study the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR). Fast reactors appear to be effective options but a significant number of fast reactors must be deployed before the benefit of such strategies can be observed.« less
  • The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the Secretary of Energy to inform Congress before 2010 on the need for a second geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel. By that time, the spent fuel discharged from current commercial reactors will exceed the statutory limit of the first repository. There are several approaches to eliminate the need for another repository in this century. This paper presents a high-level analysis of these spent fuel management options in the context of a full range of possible nuclear energy futures. The analysis indicates the best option to implement varies depending on the nuclear energy futuremore » selected.« less
  • The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the Secretary of Energy to inform Congress before 2010 on the need for a second geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel. By that time, the spent fuel discharged from current commercial reactors will exceed the statutory limit of the first repository (63,000 MTiHM commercial, 7,000 MT non-commercial). There are several approaches to eliminate the need for another repository in this century. This paper presents a high-level analysis of these spent fuel management options in the context of a full range of possible nuclear energy futures. The analysis indicates the best option to implement variesmore » depending on the nuclear energy future selected. The first step in understanding the need for different spent fuel management approaches is to understand the size of potential spent fuel inventories. A full range of potential futures for domestic commercial nuclear energy is considered. These energy futures are as follows: 1. Existing License Completion - Based on existing spent fuel inventories plus extrapolation of future plant-by-plant discharges until the end of each operating license, including known license extensions. 2. Extended License Completion - Based on existing spent fuel inventories plus a plant-by-plant extrapolation of future discharges assuming on all operating plants having one 20-year extension. 3. Continuing Level Energy Generation - Based on extension of the current ~100 GWe installed commercial base and average spent fuel discharge of 2100 MT/yr through the year 2100. 4. Continuing Market Share Generation – Based on a 1.8% compounded growth of the electricity market through the year 2100, matched by growing nuclear capacity and associated spent fuel discharge. 5. Growing Market Share Generation - Extension of current nuclear capacity and associated spent fuel discharge through 2100 with 3.2% growth representing 1.5% market growth (all energy, not just electricity) and 1.7% share growth. Share growth results in tripling market share by 2100 from the current 8.4% to 25%, equivalent to continuing the average market growth of last 50 years for an additional 100 years. Five primary spent fuel management strategies are assessed against each of the energy futures to determine the number of geological repositories needed and how the first repository would be used. The geological repository site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, has the physical potential to accommodate all the spent fuel that will be generated by the current fleet of domestic commercial nuclear reactors, even with license extensions. If new nuclear plants are built in the future as replacements or additions, the United States will need to adopt spent fuel treatment to extend the life of the repository. Should a significant number of new nuclear plants be built, advanced fuel recycling will be needed to fully manage the spent fuel within a single repository. The analysis also considers the timeframe for most efficient implementation of new spent fuel management strategies. The mix of unprocessed spent fuel and processed high level waste in Yucca Mountain varies with each future and strategy. Either recycling must start before there is too much unprocessed waste emplaced or unprocessed waste will have to be retrieved later with corresponding costs. For each case, the latest date to implement reprocessing without subsequent retrieval is determined.« less
  • A systematic evaluation has been conducted of the potential for advanced nuclear fuel cycle strategies and options to address the issues ascribed to the use of nuclear power. Issues included nuclear waste management, proliferation risk, safety, security, economics and affordability, and sustainability. The two basic strategies, once-through and recycle, and the range of possibilities within each strategy, are considered for all aspects of the fuel cycle including options for nuclear material irradiation, separations if needed, and disposal. Options range from incremental changes to today’s implementation to revolutionary concepts that would require the development of advanced nuclear technologies.