Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Fuel Cycles

Management of Reprocessed Uranium (RepU)

Objective: To increase the awareness of the interested Member States in improving resource utilization that result in environment benign and sustainable growth of nuclear energy.

Contact Point: Uddharan BASAK.

Environmental considerations will be important in determining the future growth of nuclear energy. Reprocessing of spent fuel would form a crucial part of future fuel cycle methodologies, which currently aim to separate and recover plutonium and minor actinides. The use of ´Reprocessed Uranium¡ (RepU) and Pu reduces the overall environmental impact by the entire fuel cycle. It should be emphasised that the recycling not only reduces the toxicity and volumes of waste; but it reduces also fresh milling and mill tailings. It should also noted that direct disposal of spent fuel premeditates creation of larger capacity repositories for permanent disposal than compared to that of the closed fuel cycle. A working group is preparing a technical document that encompasses the technical and economic issues involved in managing reprocessed uranium such as RepU arisings, storage, chemical conversion, re-enrichment, fuel fabrication, transport, reactor irradiation, subsequent reprocessing and disposal options, as well as assessment of holistic environmental impacts.

For details: Management of reprocessed uranium: status and trends, IAEA-TECDOC Series 1529.

Task 2a. Technical meeting on "Reuse options for reprocessed uranium"

There is a significant interest in Member States to develop advanced and innovative technologies for nuclear fuel cycles while minimizing waste and environmental impacts on the basis of innovative fuel cycle approaches. An important area where several technologies already exist but where experience may be limited and shared knowledge may not be widely available is in the recycle and reuse of valuable material. In addition, the recent international initiatives efforts with emphasis on recycle and the current significant rise in the spot market price of natural uranium have stimulated increased interest in the potential for use of RepU. Recognizing the importance of this subject, the IAEA conducted a technical meeting (TM) on this subject to review recent progress.

The scientific scope:

The TM clarified the present status and future prospects in the utilization of reprocessed uranium (RepU) analysing existing options, approaches and future developments in the management of RepU. The TM discussed in detail the technical issues such as RepU storage, chemical conversion, re-enrichment, fuel fabrication, transport, in-core fuel management, subsequent reprocessing and disposal options, as well as assessments / comparisons / economic issues and long-term perspectives.

As result of the this TM, two technical documents viz., i) a proceedings of the TM as well as ii) Use of reprocessed uranium: challenges and options are being prepared and would be published by the end of 2008.

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