Aim is to advance recycling and reduce waste volume A spent nuclear fuel storage pool at a nuclear power station. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $38m (€38.5m) for a dozen projects that will work to reduce the impact of light-water reactor used nuclear fuel disposal.

The projects, led by universities, private companies and national laboratories, were selected to develop technologies to advance used nuclear fuel recycling, reduce the volume of high-level waste requiring permanent disposal, and provide safe domestic advanced reactor fuel stocks.

The DOE said nuclear energy generates nearly a fifth of the US’s electricity and accounts for half of all domestic clean energy generation.

While used nuclear fuel, sometimes referred to as spent nuclear fuel, is created during the process of generating nuclear energy, clean energy generated from this fuel would be enough to power more than 70 million homes.

Further, the used fuel can be recycled to make new fuel and byproducts that support the deployment of nuclear energy.

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said recycling nuclear waste for clean energy generation can “significantly reduce” the amount of spent fuel at nuclear sites, and “increase economic stability for the communities leading this important work”.

Upon discharge from a nuclear reactor, the used fuel is initially stored in steel-lined concrete pools surrounded by water. It is later removed from the pools and placed into dry storage casks with protective shielding.

Most of the nation’s used fuel is stored at more than 70 reactor sites across the country.

Projects funded through the programme will enable “secure, economical recycling” of the nation’s use fuel and substantially reduce the volume, heat load, and radiotoxicity of waste requiring permanent disposal. These efforts will also provide a valuable and sustainable fuel feedstock for advanced reactors.

Organisations carrying out the projects include Argonne National Laboratory, GE Research, Idaho National Laboratory, NuVision Engineering, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Colorado and the University of North Texas.

Date: Wednesday, 26 October 2022
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