08 April 2012

Nuclear Waste Problem - What Nuclear Waste Problem?

Memorandum of Understanding to study the Breeder Reactor Solution to the UK's Plutonium Stockpile.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) on handling UK plutonium.
NNL will provide expert technical input to the potential U.K. deployment of GEH’s innovative PRISMreactor, which would be specifically designed to deal with the UK’s plutonium while generating 600 megawatts of low-carbon electricity.
GEH met with a number of skilled nuclear workers in West Cumbria to learn how they could work with GEH on PRISM’s potential deployment.
The country is currently storing more than 87 metric tons (and growing) of plutonium at the Sellafield nuclear complex in West Cumbria, England. 
“We are excited for the potential opportunity to utilize the expertise of NNL and help the U.K. continue to take a leadership role in the reuse of plutonium,” said Danny Roderick, senior vice president of new plant projects for GEH.
“With our recognized technical capability and long experience in fuel cycle analysis, we are pleased that GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has looked to NNL to provide independent and authoritative input to the potential U.K. application of a PRISM reactor,” said Paul Howarth, managing director of NNL.
Today, GEH, along with leading U.K. engineering firms Costain, Arup and Pöyry, (GEH’s “CAP Alliance” partners), met face-to-face with the number of highly talented and experienced nuclear sector suppliers in West Cumbria.
Should PRISM be approved for construction, in addition to creating about 900 permanent jobs and thousands of expected indirect jobs for the local community, this multibillion-pound investment would stand to create a range of opportunities for suppliers while continuing to develop the country’s nuclear energy skills base.
Drawing of the PRISM Reactor
(Power Reactor Innovative Small Module) 

PRISM is based on technology that was demonstrated in a fast reactor in the U.S. called the EBR II (Experimental Breeder Reactor) that operated successfully for 30 years. Calculations have shown that PRISM technology would use practically all the stored plutonium at Sellafield, as PRISM consumes much of the plutonium as a true fuel.

1 comment:

  1. I was reading about this proposal at www.i-nuclear.com - What I found interseting was that the proposal is to place the plutonium in the reactor for around 100 days. After 100 days the plutonium is "contaminated" with short lived adioactive elements that render the plutonium "poliferation resistant".

    I read that the fuel will be used in the reactor more than once.

    I conclude (and the article concurs) that they will still be leaving lots of energy in the fuel.

    At the end there is still a need for geologic disposal but I suppose that it may not need to be isolated from the environment for as long as normal spent fuel (300,000 years).