Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials
Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Fuel Cycles
Current Status and Future Perspective of Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle
The potential of fast reactor for exploiting the virtually inexhaustible energy locked in natural uranium was realized in the mid 1940's. However, fast reactor technology has still not matured enough to be economically competitive with water-cooled or gas-cooled thermal reactor. One of the key issues for the commercial deployment of fast reactors is to develop suitable fuels and closed fuel cycle options that make most efficient utilization of natural uranium resources and reduce the long term radiotoxicity of spent fuel. In recent years there has been a rising expectation for nuclear power and its long term sustainability. Accordingly, there has been renewed interest in fast reactors and related fuel and fuel cycle technology in several countries.
To support Member States and to facilitate information exhange, the IAEA has, for example, organized a technical meeting at Obninsk in cooperation with IPPE. The meeting critically reviewed global development of liquid metal cooled fast reactor fuels and its fuel cycle. The IAEA has also published two documents on fast reactor fuel cycle in 2011:
- The document entitled Status and Trends of Nuclear Fuels Technology for Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (NF-T-4.1) is a compilation of updated information on manufacturing technology, properties and irradiation behaviour of the conventional mixed uranium plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel and advanced SFR fuels, namely, mixed uranium plutonium monocarbide (MC), mononitride (MN) and the metallic U-Pu-Zr fuel.
- The other document entitled Status of Developments in the Back End of the Fast Reactor Fuel cycle (NF-T-4.2) discusses emerging innovations and R&D needs for the back end of the fuel cycle with an emphasis on reprocessing.
For further information, please contact the NEFW Contact Point.