Neutron-Induced Transmutation

  • Yican Wu


Transmutation is defined as the conversion of one nuclide into another, along with the corresponding change in the number of neutrons or protons in the resulting nucleus. Transmutation can be realized via nuclear reactions or radioactive decays. In nuclear systems, neutron-induced transmutation includes the processes of burnup, nuclear waste transmutation, nuclear fuel breeding, and material activation. Research on burnup mainly focused on studying the consumption of nuclear fuel isotopes and its impact on nuclear system performance. During the process of fuel burnup, a large amount of long-lived nuclear wastes with high level of radiation will be produced, the improper handling of which will cause substantial radiological hazards. In advanced nuclear systems, especially hybrid nuclear systems, long-lived high-level radionuclides in nuclear wastes can be converted into short-lived nuclides or stable nuclides via nuclear waste transmutation. The fissile fuel can only be used by existing nuclear systems for decades as estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA) [1], while tritium, which is used by fusion systems, is virtually nonexistent in nature. Nuclear fuel breeding refers to the conversion of fissionable nuclides into fissile nuclides or the conversion of other nuclides into tritium via nuclear reactions to satisfy the nuclear fuel demands for the long-term stable application of nuclear energy. During the operation of nuclear systems, neutrons react with nuclei to produce radionuclides, and the materials are activated. The radionuclides that are produced typically decay and emit α, β, and ɣ rays, which poses potential radioactive hazards to nuclear systems, workers, and the environment.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yican Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology (INEST)Chinese Academy of SciencesHefeiChina

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