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Dynamic Simulations of Advanced Fuel Cycles

Steven J. Piet, Brent W. Dixon, Jacob J. Jacobson, Gretchen E. Matthern, David E. Shropshire

Nuclear Technology

Volume 173 / Number 3 / March 2011 / Pages 227-238


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Nothing in life is static, so why compare fuel cycle options using only static, equilibrium analyses? Competitive industry looks at how new technology options might displace existing technologies and change how existing systems work. So too, our years of performing dynamic simulations of advanced nuclear fuel cycle options provide insights into how they might work and how one might transition from the current once-through fuel cycle. This paper summarizes those insights within the context of the 2005 objectives and goals of what was then the U.S. Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI). The intent here is not to compare options, assess options versus those objectives and goals, nor recommend changes to those objectives and goals. (The specific options change over time; the objective in this paper is to look for more generic insights.) We organize what we have learned from dynamic simulations in the context of the AFCI objectives for waste management, proliferation resistance, uranium utilization, and economics. Thus, we do not merely describe "lessons learned" from dynamic simulations but attempt to answer the "so what" question by using this context; i.e., how do the lessons learned matter relative to goals and objectives not just to technological observations? The analyses have been performed using the Verifiable Fuel Cycle Simulation of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Dynamics (VISION). We observe that the 2005 objectives and goals do not address many of the inherently dynamic discriminators among advanced fuel cycle options and transitions thereof.

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