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Nuclear Energy Challenges in this Century Daniel A. Meneley University of Ontario Institute of Technology 2000 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa, Ontario, Canada,

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Presentation on theme: "Nuclear Energy Challenges in this Century Daniel A. Meneley University of Ontario Institute of Technology 2000 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa, Ontario, Canada,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Nuclear Energy Challenges in this Century Daniel A. Meneley University of Ontario Institute of Technology 2000 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, L1H 7K4

2 Introduction Nuclear energy is a mature technology – It is no longer a leading topic for research The world faces an urgent energy challenge – Population is increasing – Petroleum supplies are low and uncertain – There is little time to build for the future – IEA statement, 2009 annual report “We must leave oil before it leaves us”

3 What are The Main Challenges? As defined in recent IAEA Report – “International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power”, Report by the Director General, September 2010 As defined in recent MIT Summary Report – “The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle”, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study, 2010 A list of this sort must be based on some kind of prediction of the future – a precarious task at best

4 Comparison of Challenge Lists





9 Table II. Challenges Identified in MIT Study SHORT TERM (ZERO to 40 YEARS) Mitigation of climate change risk Global Deployment at Terawatt Scale -- LWR Only +Spent Fuel and Waste Management and Disposal +Proliferation Risks and Nuclear Security +Safety and Reliability Research on Choice of Fuel, Reactor Type, and Fuel Cycle Preserve Options LONG TERM (40 to 90 YEARS) +Reactor Design Innovation +Fuel Cycle Innovations + Same as IAEA list

10 Selection of Challenges Preconditions Select & combine Priority 2 Select & combine Select Select & combine Select & Combine

11 Selected Challenges SHORT TERM (ZERO to 50 YEARS) 1.Gain Public Acceptance 2.Restore Realism in the Assessment of Radiation Risk 3.Complete the Technical Task – Replace Petroleum in transportation 4.Establish the Means for Financing Nuclear Energy Projects 5.Answer Power Plant Site, Security, Energy Transport Questions 6.Eliminate Nuclear Weapons Proliferation LONG TERM (50 to 100 YEARS ) 7.Effective use of available resources (fuels and materials) 8.Grow Nuclear Capacity to More Than Ten Terawatts 9.Integrate Industrial Systems – Develop the “Hydricity” Network

12 1.Earn public acceptance – you can’t live without it – Acceptance relies on trust Institutional trust is essential, but rare today Trust is easy to lose and difficult to earn – If institutions are trustworthy, the young will come Resources will not be a problem 2.Do realistic risk analysis – Make “best estimate” predictions of risk Decouple these estimates from licensing analysis – Control costs, improve public acceptance Preliminaries

13 3. Complete the Technical Task Replace Petroleum IAEA – 2009 Annual Report – “One day we will run out of oil, it is not today or tomorrow, but one day we will run out of oil and we have to leave oil before oil leaves us, and we have to prepare ourselves for that day. – “The earlier we start the better, because all of our economic and social system is based on oil. To change from that will take a lot of time and a lot of money and we should take this issue very seriously”.

14 Only Oil?? Coal – Plentiful but poorly distributed and difficult to manage in a sensitive natural environment Limits to scale-up capability? Natural Gas – Plentiful in some areas, scarce in others Shale gas is not the answer

15 Nuclear is “Small Potatoes” Today rticle/230374-global- hydro-and-nuclear-power- in- perspective?source=email (

16 16 Energy Options on Planet Earth Available Resource Original Source?How Much? Oil Natural Gas Coal Geotherma l Derived from stored solar energy plus the decay of radioactive materials in the earth. Half of available oil has already been used 0.4 yotta (10 24 ) Joules Coal is the largest source Hydro Wind Solar Tidal Biomass Derived from direct solar (fusion) or from earth’s and moon’s kinetic energy. Diffuse and limited in either total capacity or achievable extraction rate. 3.8 yotta (10 24 ) Joules per year Approximately the same amount of energy is radiated to space per year Uranium Thorium Derived from the explosion of a supernova, some 6.5 billion years ago. Inexhaustible total capacity and widespread availability. High potential extraction rate. » 320 yotta (10 24 ) Joules Uranium in seawater is the largest source

17 Resources Consumed per Gigawatt of Production Capacity Type of power plant No. of units, land area Fuel Required per year Solid Waste tons/year Gaseous Waste, incl. GHGs Avail- ability (%) Cost US$ /MWh Life-time (yrs) Nuclear (LWR) One or two units, small area 20 tons uranium dioxide 1 ton fission products in ~15 tons HLW No CO 2 or other GHGs during operation ~ 9045 - 120 >60 Coal One or two units, small area ~ 4 million tons of coal ~ 0.4 million tons of ash ~ 13 million tons of CO 2 ~ 8030- 90~ 30 Jan B. van Erp, Agustin Alonso, Daniel A. Meneley, Jozef Misak, George S. Stanford, to be published

18 Is there enough nuclear fuel? 18 Sources of Uranium and Thorium Resources (thousands of tonnes) Exajoules (Thermal Reactors) Exajoules (Fast Reactors) U Recoverable [IAEA, 2007] 5,5002750437,000 UEAR [OECD, 1998]15,00075001,200,000 UUsed Fuel2,000-160,000 U+PuSurplus MilitarySmall U Phosphates [IAEA 2001] 9,1004700750,000 U Dissolved in Seawater 4,400,000N/A317,800,000 Th Recoverable [OECD/ NEA 2007] 2,573 (low?)1300212,000 NOTE: World Primary Energy Use in 2005: 457 Exajoules

19 Transportation Fuels C.W. Forsberg (ORNL and MIT): – “Liquid fuel demands for transport could be reduced in half by combinations of several options such as diesel engines and plug-in hybrids. – “Independently, the biomass liquid fuel options could meet existing liquid fuel demands.... – “The specific combination of biomass, nuclear energy, and liquid fuels for transportation will be determined by the results of ongoing development work.”

20 Alternative Strategies “Urgent” is the most important word today – We have no time to search for the “best” solution – We have a good technology – water reactors – in hand – We have another option – SFR – at the demonstration stage Good for waste management – and for energy in the long term Edward Kee, NERA Consultants: – “The most important issue for reactor designs is to get a lot of units built and in operation as fast as possible..... While design features are important, market success is much more important.”

21 Alternative Strategies Do NOT fall into the “research forever” trap – It is tempting to spend effort on “perfect” solutions that take a long time to develop

22 Alternative Strategies Do NOT fall into the “research forever” trap – It is tempting to spend effort on “perfect” solutions that take a long time to develop Of course, do research for the 22 nd century – Work on all energy options that might be beneficial – But do NOT let this research work conflict with meeting today’s challenge

23 Are There Enough Reactor Sites? Given the need for a few terawatts of capacity: – Establish mega-sites analogous to major oil fields Improved technical support and security environment Arrange for a “hub and spoke” system with small sites – Build recycling facilities at major sites Reduce transportation needs – Recycle most actinides Shorten isolation period and waste repository volumes – On-site waste disposal? Recover high value inert fission products (not waste) Deep-drilled final repository?

24 Oxide Fabrication Plant Uranium Thorium Fresh Fuel CANDU Enriched U Used PWR Fuel DUPIC Processing Plant Waste Reprocessing Plant FBR REPROC. + FAB. PLANT THIS ENERGY SUPPLY IS SUSTAINABLE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS U, Pu, fission products Old Used Fuel Used Fuel Used Fuel Storage Waste Disposal 24 Example – A Nuclear Mega-Site Pu U

25 4. Financing the Nuclear Buildup Consider a new oil field discovery – Large capital requirements for development Tax relief is a common support mechanism Low lease fees Direct subsidy Concept of the “Public Good” – Paul Collier – “Natural resources have no natural owner” Ownership normally is assigned to government Nuclear is a public good – an investment in the future – Loan guarantees by governments are fully justified – This will reduce a “common bad” – the import of petroleum

26 5. Site, Security, Energy Transport A few large sites are preferred for many reasons – Remote location or an island may be preferred Security is much easier and more affordable – Energy transport similar to that of a large oil field Energy currencies will be electricity and hydrogen Co-location – e.g. synthetic transportation fuel production – Pipelines and power lines, water transport – Minimal fuel shipment, especially of used fuel Bring recycle facilities to the reactor site

27 6. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation This is primarily a task for diplomats and governments – not technical folks – Effective international agreements are essential – The nonproliferation regime already exists No aggressive use of these weapons in past 65 years A matter for specialists – civil and military – Engineers can assist with – but not solve -- this issue There is no “proliferation proof” nuclear plant design

28 7, 8, 9. The Long Term Long term fuel supply will not be a problem – True, if this issue is properly addressed in the short term Otherwise, long term prediction is too uncertain for definite statements on challenges – The task today is to get through the next 50 years – Our descendants probably will produce better ideas In case they do not, nuclear fission energy can do the job even without future technical discoveries Hydrogen & electricity are expected to be main currencies The matter of steadily increasing human numbers must be dealt with soon – by someone.

29 Summary Build nuclear capacity rapidly – Gen II and/or III Classify nuclear capacity as an investment, not as a cost Do not fall into the “research forever” trap Convert sufficient fertile material to fissile material, to supply long term recycled fuel Fission most of the higher actinides

30 Questions?

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