Impact of separation capacity on transition to advanced fuel cycles

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Adeniyi, Abiodun I.
Petrovic, Bojan
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One of the proposed solutions to the issue of nuclear waste volume is to transition from once through nuclear fuel cycle to advanced fuel cycles with used fuel recycling option. In any advanced fuel cycles with recycling options, the type and amount of separation technology deployed play a crucial role in the overall performance of the fuel cycle. In this work, a scenario study involving two advanced fuel cycles in addition to the once through fuel cycle were evaluated using VISION nuclear fuel cycle simulation code. The advanced fuel cycles were setup to transition completely to full recycling without any light water reactor by assuming all LWR currently in operation will have 20 years of operating life extension and no new LWR will be constructed thereafter. Several different separation capacities (1kT/yr, 2kT/yr and 4 kT/yr) were deployed and the overall impact of these capacities was analyzed in terms of resources utilization, used fuel and waste material generated and the amount of storage space required. Economic parameter (LCOE, LFCC, etc) analysis was also performed using VISION.ECON. Results presented in this work suggest that the need for LWR-UNF storage can be minimized if sufficient separation capacity is deployed early in the fuel cycle. It can also be concluded that a FuRe system without LEU will not be feasible, thus SFRs must be designed for optional use of LEU fuel. Otherwise LWRs must continue to be part of the mix to keep the near term cost of generating electricity competitive. It was observed that the higher amount of separation capacity deployed in the advanced fuel cycles led to higher LFCC and LCOE, but also translates into less environmental impact on both front and back end of the fuel cycle.
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