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Comparative Fuel Cycle Analysis of Critical and Subcritical Fast Reactor Transmutation Systems

Edward A. Hoffman, Weston M. Stacey

Nuclear Technology / Volume 144 / Number 1 / Pages 83-106

October 2003

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Fuel cycle analyses are performed to evaluate the impacts of further transmutation of spent nuclear fuel on high-level and low-level waste mass flows into repositories, on the composition and toxicity of the high-level waste, on the capacity of high-level waste repositories, and on the proliferation resistance of the high-level waste. Storage intact of light water reactor (LWR) spent nuclear fuel, a single recycle in a LWR of the plutonium as mixed-oxide fuel, and the repeated recycle of the transuranics in critical and subcritical fast reactors are compared with the focus on the waste management performance of these systems. Other considerations such as cost and technological challenges were beyond the scope of this study. The overall conclusion of the studies is that repeated recycling of the transuranics from spent nuclear fuel would significantly increase the capacity of high-level waste repositories per unit of nuclear energy produced, significantly increase the nuclear energy production per unit mass of uranium ore mined, significantly reduce the radiotoxicity of the waste streams per unit of nuclear energy produced, and significantly enhance the proliferation resistance of the material stored in high-level waste repositories.

 
 
 
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