Using all of the heavy elements in nuclear waste to provide energy

A silly thing about light water nuclear reactors is that only half a percent of the energy in nuclear fuel is used.  The rest goes to waste as heavy elements that decay to safe levels of radioactivity over hundreds  of thousands of years.  What if we could use all of the heavy elements and have a waste that contains only lightweight fission products that decay to background levels of radioactivity in 300 years?  This is one example of an advanced reactor design that could use all the energy in nuclear fuel, remove short lived, light fission products  as waste with AIROX dry separation and recycle heavier elements in a closed nuclear fuel cycle.

This is General Atomics proposed EM2 advanced nuclear reactor.  They have built helium cooled reactors.  It is not new technology but uses 21st century methods and materials.  It will use silicon carbide fuel cladding rather than the aluminium alloy cladding used at Chernobyl and Fukushima – where the cladding melted generating hydrogen that then exploded dispersing radioactivity over large areas.  The silicon carbide cladding can’t melt down at any feasible temperature.  I note that they have recently announced a joint venture with a subsidiary of Électricité de France to develop a 50MW version aiming for commercial deployment is 2035.  A 50MW fast modular reactor (FMR) would be ideal for plug and play use with many applications.

em2-summary

Factory built – runs for 30 years without refueling.  Return the entire unit to the factory – no need to open the fuel core on site at all.

GA em2

Recycle fuel and remove fission products.

Many times using conventional nuclear waste as a source of 100’s of years of safe reliable energy.

Creating much less waste – that has much lower activity.

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