Stocks and Flows of U and Pu in a World with 3.6 TWe of Nuclear Power

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Integrated energy, environment, and economics models project that worldwide electrical energy use will increase to ∼12 TWe in 2100 and nuclear power may be required to provide 3.6 TWe at this time. If pulverized coal without carbon sequestration were employed instead, the resulting incremental long-term global temperature rise would be about 2/3 deg C. Calculations are presented of the stocks and flows of uranium and plutonium associated with the scenario where this energy is provided by nuclear power. If only light-water reactors (LWRs) are used, the scenario consumes about 33.4 Mt of mined uranium. Continuing to operate the reactors in ... continued below

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Goldston, Robert J. August 10, 2012.

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Integrated energy, environment, and economics models project that worldwide electrical energy use will increase to ∼12 TWe in 2100 and nuclear power may be required to provide 3.6 TWe at this time. If pulverized coal without carbon sequestration were employed instead, the resulting incremental long-term global temperature rise would be about 2/3 deg C. Calculations are presented of the stocks and flows of uranium and plutonium associated with the scenario where this energy is provided by nuclear power. If only light-water reactors (LWRs) are used, the scenario consumes about 33.4 Mt of mined uranium. Continuing to operate the reactors in place in 2100 through the end of their assumed 60 year lifetime raises this to 59 Mt, 4.7x the NEA/ IAEA Redbook estimate for total discovered + undiscovered uranium. The waste corresponds to about 86x the legally defined capacity of Yucca Mtn. A case is also considered where a transition is begun to fast-spectrum reactors in 2040, both for a “balanced” system of LWRs and transuranic (TRU) burners with conversion ration (CR) = 0.5, and for a system of breeders. In the latter case we find that CR = 1.21 is adequate to replace all LWRs with breeders by 2100, using solely TRU from LWRs to start up the reactors – assuming reprocessed fuel is available for use two years after its removal from the reactor. The stock of plutonium circulating in the fast reactor system in 2100 is comparable to that which would have been buried in the LWR-only case. One year of fueling corresponds to 2,000 – 6,000t of Pu. Fusion energy, if first brought on line in mid-century, could in principle replace fast reactors in this scenario.

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  • Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Conference, (Oct 23-25, 2012)

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  • Report No.: PPPL--4793
  • Grant Number: DE-ACO2-09CH11466
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1056804
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc844390

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • August 10, 2012

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  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • July 18, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

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Goldston, Robert J. Stocks and Flows of U and Pu in a World with 3.6 TWe of Nuclear Power, article, August 10, 2012; Princeton, New Jersey. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc844390/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.