Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Throw It Away, When There’s a Productive Use for Nuclear Spent Fuel?

Why Throw It Away, When There’s a Productive Use for Nuclear Spent Fuel? - Ontario Society of Professional Engineers:
Society now recycles or reuses many of our resources that were originally considered waste. However, due to our fear of nuclear proliferation, the recycling and reuse of nuclear spent fuel was banned in the USA some decades ago.
Did you know that during the subsequent 30 years, technology has advanced to the point where rogue states no longer use spent fuel to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons? They prefer a much cheaper and easier method to make atomic weapons. They use high speed centrifuges to enrich natural uranium into pure U-235. Natural uranium contains 99.3% non-fissile U-238 and only 0.7% U-235 which is fissile and can be used to make atomic weapons.
Did you know that our current thermal reactors consume only 1% of the uranium in the original mined ore? The rest is sitting either in the spent fuel in the case of natural uranium fuel for our CANDU reactors or in a combination of the spent fuel and in depleted uranium stockpiles in the case of enriched uranium fuel.

Did you know that a specific type of reactor called a fast neutron reactor (FNR) is capable of reusing spent fuel from thermal reactors and consuming all of the uranium including the non-fissile U-238 and heavier than uranium actinides? FNRs do this by converting the U-238 by neutron capture into plutonium or other actinide isotopes and then consuming them within the reactor core. FNR reactor cores can also be configured to produce more actinides than are needed to operate continuously and so they can convert our stockpiles of useless depleted U-238 into fissile fuel for both new FNR’s and existing thermal power reactors such as our CANDU reactors.
The entire article may be read at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers:

Fast Neutron Reactors | World Nuclear Association

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