Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Issues and Some Answers for the U.S.A.

by William O. Harms, Dir.; Nuclear Reactor Tech. Programs, Oak Ridge National Lab., Oak Ridge, Tenn. 37830,

Serial Information: Journal of the Energy Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 2, Pg. 91-103

Document Type: Journal Paper


The principal issues regarding nuclear power center on reprocessing and recycling of spent fuel, deployment of breeder reactors, and waste disposal. Analysis of future energy needs using a minimum societal expectation approach indicates that economically recoverable domestic uranium resources probably will have been exhausted early in the next century. Even if speculative resources are assumed to become available, deployment of commercial breeders may be required in the 2010-2020 time frame. Accordingly, a vigorous breeder and fuel recycle research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program is needed at this time. The plutonium needs for current breeder RD&D projects are a matter of some concern. The estimated requirements for the period 1987-1995 range from 12 to 30 tons of plutonium. A facility for producing U-Pu oxide fuel subassemblies for the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Plant must be operable by 1986 (there is no existing industrial capability for fabricating U-Pu fuels), and a pilot-scale breeder fuel reprocessing plant must be ready to accept CRBRP fuel in 1993. For waste disposal, an engineering-scale demonstration for high-level nuclear wastes is urgently needed.

Subject Headings: Industrial facilities | Recycling | Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Fuels | Waste treatment | Nuclear reactors | Energy recovery

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