Impact of Nuclear Energy Futures on Advanced Fuel Cycle Options

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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 varies ... continued below

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Dixon, Brent W. & Piet, Steven J. October 1, 2004.

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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 varies 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.

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  • Americas Nuclear Energy Symposium 2004,Miami Beach, Florida,10/03/2004,10/06/2004

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  • Report No.: INEEL/CON-04-01965
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 910859
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc886594

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  • October 1, 2004

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 4:20 p.m.

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Dixon, Brent W. & Piet, Steven J. Impact of Nuclear Energy Futures on Advanced Fuel Cycle Options, article, October 1, 2004; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc886594/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.