The Benefits of an Advanced Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle For Plutonium Management
The United State has no program to investigate advanced nuclear fuel cycles for the largescale consumption of plutonium from military and civilian sources. The official U.S. position has been to focus on means to bury spent nuclear fuel from civilian reactors and to achieve the spent fuel standard for excess separated plutonium, which is considered by policy makers to be an urgent international priority. Recently, the National Research Council published a long-awaited report on its study of potential separation and transmutation technologies (STATS), which concluded that in the nuclear energy phase-out scenario that they evaluated, transmutation of plutonium and long-lived radioisotopes would not be worth the cost. However, at the American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting in June, 1996, the STATS panelists endorsed further study of partitioning to achieve superior waste forms for burial, and suggested that any further consideration of transmutation should be in the context of energy production, not of waste management.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has an active program for the short-term disposition of excess fissile material and a “focus area” for safe, secure stabilization, storage and disposition of plutonium, but has no current programs for fast reactor development.
Tens of tonnes of plutonium could be quickly secured in a single reactor system.
Use of a metal alloy fuel would allow economic fuel recycling at any scale to match the energy production requirements.
All actinides would remain in the fuel cycle, out of the waste stream.
Throughout the fuel cycle, the plutonium would remain in a highly radioactive environment equivalent to the spent fuel standard.
he net rate of plutonium consumption could be controlled to meet future energy requirements.
Because all actinides fission in the fast spectrum, the more radiotoxic transuranic isotopes would not build up as they do in a thermal spectrum.
Specific fission products would be partitioned into the waste forms in which they would be most stable for disposal.
KeywordsFast Reactor Fission Product Conversion Ratio Fuel Cycle American Nuclear Society
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