Impact of Limited Reprocessing Capacity on Nuclear Material Utilization in Advanced Fuel Cycles
A nuclear energy scenario study was performed using VISION 3.4; to analyze three different fuel cycles: once through (open) cycle (OTC), full recycle with a transition through a modified open cycle (MOC), and direct introduction of full recycle without transition (FuRe) in terms of their impact on uranium resource utilization on both the front- and back-end of these fuel cycles, Both the MOC and FuRe show significant improvement (reduction) in the amount of uranium ore required to generate the same amount of energy for a 150-year period when compared to the OTC. The same conclusion also holds for the amount of used nuclear fuel (UNF) in storage (wet, dry and monitored retrievable (MRS)) in the back-end of the fuel cycle. Findings suggest that under the analyzed deployment scenarios, amount of separation capacity deployed have impact on resource utilization. There is no clear advantage of either MOC or FuRe over one another in the front end of the fuel cycle as far as material utilization under both separation capacities analyzed. However, due to its potential for earlier deployment, MOC offers better UNF management in the back end at 2 kT/yr separation capacity: the amount of UNF for storage is smaller compared to OTC and FuRe, this advantage is not evident when the capacity was doubled. In terms of transuranic (TRU) consumption, FuRe is the better choice compared to MOC, under the lower separation capacity scenario, however at doubled capacity, both cycles consumed about the same amount of TRU. It can be concluded that the choice of either MOC or FuRe depends on the fuel cycle objectives, however both are better compared to OTC, in terms of uranium resources utilization.