Report author Mark Lynas and RePlanet’s Joel Scott-Halkes stand next to a canister of spent nuclear fuel at the Sizewell plant in the United Kingdom. (Photo: RePlanet)
A new report from the environmental advocacy group RePlanet makes the case for recycling used nuclear fuel for use in advanced power reactors. According to the report, What a Waste: How fast-fission power can provide clean energy from nuclear waste, by using current inventories of used fuel and depleted uranium stocks in Europe and the United Kingdom, fast breeder reactors could generate between 600 and 1,000 years of carbon-free electricity for the entire European Union.
SHINE’s isotope production building, called the Chrysalis, under construction in October 2022.
In a former farm field just outside the historic town of Janesville in south-central Wisconsin, a large concrete-and-steel building is taking shape. Dubbed the Chrysalis, the building will eventually house eight accelerator-based neutron generators, which start-up company SHINE Technologies will use to produce molybdenum-99. As the precursor to the medical radioisotope technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in tens of millions of diagnostic procedures every year, primarily as a radioactive tracer.
At the heart of the Chrysalis will be the high-flux neutron generators, being supplied by SHINE’s sister company, Phoenix. The compact accelerators use a deuterium-tritium fusion process to produce neutrons, which in turn induce a subcritical fission reaction in an aqueous low-enriched uranium target (19.75 percent uranium-235) to produce Mo-99.
An aerial view of ORNL’s main campus. (Photo: ORNL)
The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced the three recipients of its fourth and final round of 2022 vouchers on October 10. The vouchers were awarded to Curio Solutions, which is developing a spent fuel recycling process, and to two companies that are separately investigating advanced reactor siting—Elementl Power and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The funds for each award will go directly to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Plastic waste on a Galapagos beach. Sunlight, wind, and waves break down large plastic debris into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. (Photo: F. Oberhaensli/IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new program, NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics), to address the global environmental impact of plastic pollution in oceans. It uses nuclear technology to monitor pollution and also to decrease the volume of plastic waste by using irradiation to complement traditional plastic recycling methods.