Journal article

A comparative physics study of alternative long-term strategies for closure of the nuclear fuel cycle

The appropriate management of radioactive waste arising from the nuclear fuel cycle is considered to be a key issue in the development of future, more sustainable nuclear energy systems. In this context, the partitioning and transmutation of actinides could play an important role through the achievement of very significant reductions in the actinide content and radiotoxicity of the high-level waste requiring geological disposal. The current paper reports on the results of a detailed physics study carried out to compare the pros and cons of alternative strategies for closure of the nuclear fuel cycle. Different long-term "steady-state" scenarios have been considered, involving the deployment, to varying degrees, of light water reactors (LWRs) and advanced fast-spectrum systems. The same nuclear data and calculation methods have been used throughout, so that a consistent and reliable comparison of the relative performance of the three basic fuel cycle options (once-through, plutonium recycle, and recycling of all actinides) has been made possible. In addition, with transmutation having been considered employing both critical and accelerator-driven fast-spectrum systems, the study has provided an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of these two different advanced system types


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