Possible Used Fuel Management Options For A Single Reactor Utility


  • Vanessa Vo Van
  • Peter Breitenstein




used fuel, sustainable, radioactive waste, open fuel cycle, closed fuel cycle


Used nuclear fuel generated by the operation of Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) needs to be managed in a safe, responsible and effective way. Whereas utilities managing several NPP can implement large scale used fuel management operations, a single reactor utility will chose solutions adapted for relatively low amount of used fuel. There are currently two different approaches for managing used fuel: Open fuel cycle, or “once-through” strategy, where used fuel is considered to be waste and disposed of after wet or dry interim storage following in-reactor use; Closed fuel cycle, or “recycling” strategy, where used fuel is considered as valuable material as it mainly contains reusable uranium and plutonium and thus recycled; such strategy can be implemented directly after in-reactor use without interim storage step and can also be put in place after interim storage; by treating used fuel, 96% of the nuclear material is recovered and recycled as Mixed OXide (MOX) fuel and Enriched Reprocessed Uranium (ERU) fuel; the remaining 4% of non-recyclable material, as well as cladding and structural elements of fuel assemblies, are packaged for final disposal. In addition, long term interim storage of used fuel has been retained by some states until decision is made for one or the other of the two available options, keeping in mind that interim storage, even long term, is a waiting solution and not a sustainable one. For all options, disposal is the final radioactive waste management step: either direct disposal of used fuel or disposal of final residual waste remaining after used fuel treatment. The purpose of the paper is to present the possible used fuel management options for a single reactor utility, clarifying advantages and drawbacks of each of them according to following criteria: safety, security, sustainable development, environment protection, non-proliferation, public acceptance, economy.


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