Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Advance or Retreat?

Amazingly, the United States does not have a current energy policy?  Will we advance, or will we retreat? The policy void is being populated by opinion from Universities, Commissions, Societies, Associations, international energy policies, low-cost natural gas, anti-nuke FUD, and social media ramblings.

The United States is becoming dependent on foreign research institutions because of very little investment in nuclear energy technologies and vast infrastructure has been laid to waste.

American Nuclear Society’s Mark Peters testified to Congress on June 6, 2012 about Recycling Used Nuclear Fuel.  The testimony was timed to support the Republic of Korea’s intent to develop a technology called “pyroprocessing.”  This technology is touted because plutonium is not uniquely separated.  Plus the end product, metal reactor fuel pellets will be used in fast reactors where the constituents will be “burned” in the atomic fire, called fission.  Bi-lateral negotiations between the USA and Korea are underway and Korean pyroprocessing is a big deal.

Pyroprocessing was developed at Idaho National Laboratory, the lead nuclear energy research institution during the operation of the EBR-II.  The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) was the goal.

“The American Nuclear Society believes that nuclear fuel recycling has the potential to reclaim much of the residual energy in used fuel currently in storage as well as used fuel that will be produced in the future, and that recycling offers a proven alternative to direct disposal of used fuel in a geological repository… The United States should begin planning a thoughtful and orderly transition to nuclear fuel recycling in parallel with the development of a geologic repository….

“The ANS also believes that the United States should accelerate development of fast spectrum reactors, which are uniquely capable of generating energy while consuming long-lived waste… it should not be overlooked that the first electricity generated through nuclear energy was produced using a fast reactor.

“The American Nuclear Society believes that the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors based on fast-neutron fission technology is important to the sustainability, reliability, and security of the world’s long-term energy supply….”

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will visit Hanford on Friday, June 15, 2012, to visit the Vit Plant and talk about the safety culture.  He will also pass by the Fast Flux Test Facility which has been deactivated and is being maintained in Surveillance and Maintenance, its sodium systems under high purity inert argon gas.

Will we advance, or will we retreat?

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