The value of spent nuclear fuel as a raw material for fueling reactors on thermal neutrons
UDC: 621.039, 553.495 (063, 470)
An analytical model is presented to determine the energy and economic value of SNF as a raw material for thermal reactors’ fuel and to identify the period of time when the energy demand for mass production of fuel from SNF appears. Possible scenarios for using of fuel resources from SNF for compensation of the predicted shortage of natural uranium which occurs from the exhaustion of deposits with the lowest cost of production and limited resources with a cost price of up to $ 260/kgU (with available forecasts of recoverable resources) are given. From the energy (resource) point of view, there is no need in large-scale SNF reprocessing for thermal reactors fuel production almost until 2040. The need to reprocess SNF in the coming decades is determined not by resource considerations, but by the necessity to reduce the amount of highly radioactive waste, develop industrial technologies of SNF treatment for the future safe and economically acceptable closed nuclear fuel cycle (NFC), increase the competitiveness of fuel companies on a global market due to the integrated offer of NFC services, etc.
Calculations of the fuel component in the cost of electricity produced by nuclear power plants with REMIX-fuel are made. REMIX-fuel is obtained by adding a certain amount of highly enriched uranium (up to 20%) to an unseparated mixture of uranium and plutonium in the reprocessed SNF which is purified from fission products and has a fissionable nuclide concentration of 1 – 2%. The enrichment of this additive has little effect on the REMIX-fuel price, since its price increases with an increase in the additive enrichment, but the mass fraction necessary for obtaining a given enrichment of fuel from thermal reactors decreases.
A concept of SNF reprocessing value for the production of REMIXfuel is presented with the method of its calculation. The higher the value of SNF reprocessing, the more profitable the production of REMIX-fuel for thermal reactors.
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