B
Minority Opinion: An Alternative to Technology Proposed for GNEP, Offered by Levy, Kazimi, and Dally

Inert fuel is made of transuranics and an inert material such as zirconium oxide. By not including a fertile material such as uranium, the transuranics are reduced by irradiation in a power reactor. The transuranic inert matrix fuel (IMF) occupies only part of the nuclear core of a light water reactor (LWR). Matrix fuel has been studied extensively in the rest of the world and we are particularly interested in once-through IMF, an idea considered in many other countries, which could be much more economical than the GNEP plan to use sodium fast burner reactors.

The thermal recycling of transuranics from LWR spent fuel IMF should be given priority over multiple recycling in sodium fast reactors, for several reasons:

  • Considerable work, including irradiation, has been carried out in many countries, as summarized in IAEA-TEC-DOC-1516, issued in August 2006. This gives the United States the opportunity to join a significant ongoing effort.

  • The United States has the necessary development facility—the Advanced Test Reactor—to confirm the development of IMF and the operating LWR to validate IMF performance through lead fuel assemblies. There is no need to wait for an Advanced Burner Reactor, its licensing, costs, and long-term availability.

  • Work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown that the use of IMF in LWR with 20 percent of the fuel assembly pins replaced with IMF pins leads to important reductions in the accumulation of transuranics (TRUs) and confirms early waste benefits encouraged in AFCI 2006.

  • GNEP has emphasized the need to avoid TRUs from reaching the U.S. repository, but it failed to recognize the plan to store defense wastes in that same repository, which will set a performance floor in dose reduction at the repository. A risk-informed approach (which is badly needed) would suggest that the GNEP plans to pursue extreme recycling are unnecessary.

  • From an economic viewpoint, the capital cost and the fuel cycle costs are higher for fast reactors than for LWRs.

  • It is recognized that IMF still requires much development, but the effort required is considerably less than that for the selected GNEP strategy.



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B minority opinion: an alternative to Technology Proposed for GNeP, offered by levy, Kazimi, and dally Inert fuel is made of transuranics and an inert material performance through lead fuel assemblies. There is no need such as zirconium oxide. By not including a fertile material to wait for an Advanced Burner Reactor, its licensing, costs, such as uranium, the transuranics are reduced by irradiation and long-term availability. in a power reactor. The transuranic inert matrix fuel (IMF) • Work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has occupies only part of the nuclear core of a light water reactor shown that the use of IMF in LWR with 20 percent of the (LWR). Matrix fuel has been studied extensively in the rest of fuel assembly pins replaced with IMF pins leads to important the world and we are particularly interested in once-through reductions in the accumulation of transuranics (TRUs) and IMF, an idea considered in many other countries, which confirms early waste benefits encouraged in AFCI 2006. could be much more economical than the GNEP plan to use • GNEP has emphasized the need to avoid TRUs from sodium fast burner reactors. reaching the U.S. repository, but it failed to recognize the The thermal recycling of transuranics from LWR spent plan to store defense wastes in that same repository, which fuel IMF should be given priority over multiple recycling in will set a performance floor in dose reduction at the reposito- sodium fast reactors, for several reasons: ry. A risk-informed approach (which is badly needed) would suggest that the GNEP plans to pursue extreme recycling are • Considerable work, including irradiation, has been unnecessary. carried out in many countries, as summarized in IAEA-TEC- • From an economic viewpoint, the capital cost and the DOC-1516, issued in August 2006. This gives the United fuel cycle costs are higher for fast reactors than for LWRs. States the opportunity to join a significant ongoing effort. • It is recognized that IMF still requires much develop- • The United States has the necessary development ment, but the effort required is considerably less than that facility—the Advanced Test Reactor—to confirm the de- for the selected GNEP strategy. velopment of IMF and the operating LWR to validate IMF