Nuclear Waste Reprocessing


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Reprocessing and Recycling Nuclear Waste, by Gus Merwin

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Nuclear Waste Reprocessing

  1. 1. Reprocessing and Recycling Nuclear Waste<br />Gus Merwin<br />Psc 403 B<br />
  2. 2. There is NO Nuclear “Waste”<br />In chemical reactions waste is a product that is in the lowest energy state so it offers no further use.<br />
  3. 3. Used Nuclear Fuel Anatomy<br />The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Dr. Tsoulfanidis’<br />
  4. 4. What is Reprocessing / Recycling<br />Reprocessing is the process of removing useful material from used nuclear fuel.<br />Recycling is the process of re-burning the “waste” in a reactor. <br />
  5. 5. REPROCESSING/RECYCLING (R&R)<br />Electro-refining facilities. ($5 billion??)<br />MOX fuel fabrication facility ($5 billion or nothing if we utilize Savannah River, SC)<br />Vitrification plant ($2 billion??)<br />Fast neutron reactor<br /> $15 billion(??) for Pebble Bed with R&D<br /> or<br /> $10 billion(??) for LMFBR<br />Prices are extremely approximate ± $2-5 billion<br />
  6. 6. Benefits of Reprocessing<br />1. Get the waste out of here<br />The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is 60 miles from down town LA. If its spent fuel pools were attacked death tolls could be in the hundreds of thousands.<br />
  7. 7. Benefits of Reprocessing<br />2. Don’t pay billions to put it here<br />By operating the Yucca Mountain repository the government would be paying billions of dollars, to store billions of dollars worth of energy.<br /><br />
  8. 8. 8<br />Benefits of Reprocessing<br />3. Don’t build more repositories<br />E. Gonzalez-Romero, Euradwaste’08, Luxembourg, 20-22 OCT 08<br />
  9. 9. Benefits of Reprocessing<br />4. Burn it!<br />There is more than 57,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel in the Untied States. 97% of that can be used to release enormous amounts of energy in the above, or similar, reactions. <br /><br />
  10. 10. Benefits of Reprocessing<br />5. Make the waste not last for 1,000,000 years<br />With transmutation, an offshoot of reprocessing, the radioactive half-life of the waste can be dropped to less than a few hundred years vs. one million.<br />J. Bouchard, IEA, Paris 2008<br />
  11. 11. Drawbacks<br />Proliferation<br />PUREX (Plutonium Uranium Extraction) isolates Plutonium. Carter ends reprocessing 1977<br />In the United States Reprocessing is not cost effective… unless….<br />Cost<br />
  12. 12. Flaws in the so called drawbacks<br />“The misuse of civilian nuclear facilities for the production of weapons, although possible, is neither the easiest nor the most efficient way to achieve such an objective.”<br />-International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) 1980<br />Thirty years containment … Failure<br />India, Pakistan, North Korea,…South Africa, Israel, Iran?<br />, CIEP<br />
  13. 13. Reprocessing across the globe<br />There are also pilot plants in China, Pakistan, and Germany.<br />China has stated publicly that they will reprocess on an industrial scale by 2025<br />Every one of these plants operates on the PUREX process which was invented in the United States in 1947.<br />Private conversation with reprocessing specialist at INL<br />Raymond G. Wymer, Vanderbilt University, <br />
  14. 14. Flaws in the so called drawbacks<br />Cost<br />Yucca Mountain has already cost $10 billion. $30 billion for completion<br />The Nuclear Waste Fund ($.001/kWh surcharge on nuclear power) has accumulated $35.7 billion. <br />The cost of catastrophe due to a natural disaster, or terrorist attacks on nuclear fuel storage is a cost that should never have to be calculated.<br />We should not be sacrificing national security for economics.<br />With these costs factored in, several full scale fuel reprocessing plants could easily be constructed.<br />NIE “Nuclear Waste Fund Payment Information by State” / DOE<br /><br />
  15. 15. Pyroprocessing <br /><br />
  16. 16. Pyroprocessing <br />Pros<br />Cons<br />Does not isolate Plutonium<br />Less costly<br />Higher efficiency than PUREX, theoretically >99%<br />Uses no water<br />PUREX proven technology<br />So far only proven on engineering scale<br />Can not be scaled up, many smaller batches must be employed<br />Most suitable for metal fuel<br />Issues with safeguards<br />
  17. 17. Recommended next steps<br />More funding for R&D of cost effective, proliferation resistant processes for the next 10 years<br />Begin construction of reprocessing facility in 10 years<br />Pyroprocesing facility<br />MOX fabrication facility (Savannah River SC)<br />Pebble Bed Fast Neutron Reactor<br />
  18. 18. PBR<br />Passive safety features<br />15% greater efficiency than water cooled reactor<br />Requires less water than a standard reactor<br />Burns actinides (the 3% that last for thousands of years)<br />
  19. 19. Summary<br />R&R is cost effective<br />R&R is safer than long term storage<br />R&R Extends fuel supplies ~10,000 years<br />R&R Reduces volume of waste<br />R&R Reduces lifetime of waste<br />R&R Reduces the overall cost<br />
  20. 20. POLICY RECOMENDATION<br />Reprocess, Recycle and store nuclear waste in Nevada. <br />Benefits for Nevadans<br /> -Massive construction employment 15 years<br /> -Continuous operational employment<br /> -Surge in technical industries and academic funding for Nevada universities<br />
  21. 21. As history progresses Uranium prices will go up. Unless we start working towards reprocessing now, our experienced scientists will die out. We will be forced to pay for French or Chinese facilities, or have to store waste for several millennia.<br />Any Questions?<br />