Management of actinide waste inventories in nuclear phase-out scenarios

The improvement of the "radiological cleanliness" of nuclear energy is a primary goal in the development of advanced reactors and fuel cycles. The multiple recycling of actinides in advanced nuclear systems with fast neutron spectra represents a key option for reducing the potential hazard from high-level waste, especially when the fuel cycle is fully closed. Such strategies, however, involve large inventories of radiotoxic, transuranic (TRU) nuclides in the nuclear park, both in-pile and out-of-pile. The management of these inventories with the help of actinide burners is likely to become an important issue, if nuclear energy systems are eventually phased out, i.e. replaced by other types of energy systems. The present paper compares phase-out scenarios for two transmutation strategies involving fast reactors (FRs) and accelerator-driven systems (ADSs), respectively, operating in symbiosis with conventional light water reactors (LWRs). Particular objectives are to evaluate and compare the TRU reduction performance of the systems as a function of the phase-out time and to determine the appropriate phase-out length for different phase-out criteria. In this connection, an interesting aspect concerns the continuous optimisation of the fuel cycle to counterbalance the reactivity decrease due to the depletion of the fissile isotopes in the fuel. It will be shown that both FRs and ADSs can achieve the goal, provided that the phase-out operation can be continued for about a hundred years. 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Published in:
Annals of Nuclear Energy, 35, 8, 1447-1460
Elsevier Ltd
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