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View Diary: Japan's Advanced Nuclear Fuel Recycling Plant Begins Operations. (33 comments)

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  •  We need 3 of these plants in US (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein, ormondotvos

    You say the Japanese MOX plant can recyle 800 MT/yr.  The 103 US reactors produce about 2,000 MT/yr of spent fuel.  So we would only need 3 Japanese-style plants to undo the annual US production of spent nuclear fuel.

    You probably have mentioned thorium fuel in one of your diaries.  There is some promising research going on in Russia in this regard.  Thorium is three times more abundant than uranium.  It does not make plutonium as a byproduct--in fact thorium can "burn up" plutonium in a reactor.  That would take care of concern about proliferation.  Also the waste is said to be much smaller in volume.

    Advocates of the thorium fuel cycle say it would be better than MOX.  What do you think?

    "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

    by Plan9 on Sun Feb 18, 2007 at 10:46:41 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  The thorium fuel cycle has a great deal to (5+ / 0-)

      recommend it.

      I will probably write about it in a future diary.

      The thorium fuel cycle was used in the very first commercial reactor to operate in the United States, the Shippingport reactor.

      It is possible to use the thorium cycle to acheive thermal breeding with CANDU type reactors.   It is also possible to incorporate this cycle to reduce plutonium inventories by much greater amounts than is possible with MOX.

      The thorium fuel cycle does require, because of a side reaction that produces U-232 resulting in certain daughters, particularly Thallium-208, that have high gamma outputs.   Thus thorium based fuels will require remote handling.   In the age of robotics this is somewhat less of a problem than in former times.

      Thorium is only more plentiful than uranium if you consider ore bodies.   It cannot be recovered from seawater and therefore may not be as large a resource as uranium.

      Ideally in my view, the important advantages of thorium fuel cycles will be further commercialized, but they will be integrated with MOX.   To fully exploit uranium it must be converted to plutonium.   This can be done safely I think, but we need to do so with careful balance of risks and benefits.

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