Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Fuel Cycles

Partitioning and Transmutation

Partitioning and transmutation processes aim at separation and recycle of actinides including minor actinides from the spent fuel or high level liquid waste. Recycle of minor actinides enables not only efficient use of resources but also reduces the waste volume and radio-toxicity by incinerating majority of separated long-living radioactive isotopes.

Developments of advanced partitioning processes as well as minor actinide bearing fuels have received enhanced interest in Member States. Many countries with large nuclear installations are exploring advanced separation technologies for the next generation fuel cycle. Both aqueous and pyro-chemical processes have been investigated to strengthen the proliferation resistance and mitigate the environmental burden by managing transuranic elements.

To support the Member States in the field of partitioning and transmutation, the IAEA helps to improve the capabilities to develop advanced fuel and innovative fuel cycle technologies for mitigation of environmental burden and disposition of nuclear materials and by-products of from nuclear fuel cycle activities.

For example, an IAEA Coordinated Research Programme (CRP) on the study of process losses in separation processes in partitioning and transmutation systems in view of minimizing long term environmental impact was completed during 2003–2008. Based on the CRP, a technical document on Assessment of Partitioning Processes for Transmutation of Actinides (IAEA-TECDOC-1648) was published. It discusses the various aspects of partitioning processes in detail with the aim of exchanging valuable information among those involved in studying and developing viable separation methods.

The IAEA also organized a technical meeting in 2011 on advanced partitioning processes. A draft document has been prepared based on the inputs received during the meeting and also from the Member States actively involved in the development of partitioning processes. The document reviews the status and trends in the pyro-processes for partitioning in the various Member States and also identifies the gap areas for further development. The document is to be published in 2013.

For further information, please contact the NEFW Contact Point.

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