An innovative way of thinking nuclear waste management – Neutron physics of a reactor directly operating on SNF

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Abstract

A solution for the nuclear waste problem is the key challenge for an extensive use of nuclear reactors as a major carbon free, sustainable, and applied highly reliable energy source. Partitioning and Transmutation (P&T) promises a solution for improved waste management. Current strategies rely on systems designed in the 60’s for the massive production of plutonium. We propose an innovative strategic development plan based on invention and innovation described with the concept of developments in s-curves identifying the current boundary conditions, and the evolvable objectives. This leads to the ultimate, universal vision for energy production characterized by minimal use of resources and production of waste, while being economically affordable and safe, secure and reliable in operation. This vision is transformed into a mission for a disruptive development of the future nuclear energy system operated by burning of existing spent nuclear fuel (SNF) without prior reprocessing. This highly innovative approach fulfils the sustainability goals and creates new options for P&T. A proof on the feasibility from neutronic point of view is given demonstrating sufficient breeding of fissile material from the inserted SNF. The system does neither require new resources nor produce additional waste, thus it provides a highly sustainable option for a future nuclear system fulfilling the requests of P&T as side effect. In addition, this nuclear system provides enhanced resistance against misuse of Pu and a significantly reduced fuel cycle. However, the new system requires a demand driven rethinking of the separation process to be efficient.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0180703
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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