Current Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options

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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 data ... continued below

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Piet, Steven J.; Dixon, B. W.; Goldmann, A.; Hill, R. N.; Jacobson, J. J.; Matthern, G. E. et al. March 1, 2006.

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Description

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 data 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.

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  • Waste Management Symposium 2006,Tuscon, Arizona,02/26/2006,02/26/2006

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-05-00757
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 911172
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc885954

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  • March 1, 2006

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 4:03 p.m.

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Piet, Steven J.; Dixon, B. W.; Goldmann, A.; Hill, R. N.; Jacobson, J. J.; Matthern, G. E. et al. Current Comparison of Advanced Fuel Cycle Options, article, March 1, 2006; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc885954/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.