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Reprocessing of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel and the "Plutonium Problem" Ostvald Roman, Associate Professor Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russian fellows, J.Martin.

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Presentation on theme: "Reprocessing of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel and the "Plutonium Problem" Ostvald Roman, Associate Professor Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russian fellows, J.Martin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reprocessing of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel and the "Plutonium Problem" Ostvald Roman, Associate Professor Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russian fellows, J.Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies MIIS

2 "The surest anti-proliferation measure is to stop reprocessing spent fuel and to reduce the quantity of separated plutonium in store." Ronald Mason Royal Society of Britain

3 Contents of the presentation Introduction Review of reprocessing irradiated nuclear fuel Nonproliferation threat in reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel The reactor-grade Pu. Is it nonproliferation threat? How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics Try to find solution of the “Plutonium problem” How much time we have? In the conclusion

4 Introduction In some countries, reprocessing is seen as a “key component of developing future sustainable nuclear energy systems” Interesting fact: today only about 15 % of all irradiated nuclear fuel is reprocessed Report IAEA. Development of Advanced Reprocessing Technologies.

5 Classification of irradiated nuclear fuel reprocessing methods

6 The armament drive in the Cold War period and modern plutonium management have led to the accumulation of extremely huge amounts of this material on our planet and its quantity is continuously increasing. There has been a concentrated search for ways to find a solution to the so-called “Plutonium Problem”. THE Plutonium Problem

7 REVIEW OF REPROCESSING METHODS Historically, this application -- plutonium extraction – was used to obtain plutonium for nuclear weapons Modern nuclear technology processes have vaster applications: recycling of irradiated nuclear fuel to extract uranium and repeated use of it in thermal reactors; recycling plutonium once as MOX fuel for thermal reactors, extending energy extracted by about 12 % and slightly reducing plutonium stocks; recycling all actinides for fast breeder reactors, closing the nuclear fuel cycle, multiplying the energy extracted from natural uranium; extraction of nuclear waste components.

8 REVIEW OF REPROCESSING METHODS

9 Picture 2. Reprocessing nuclear fuel management - Plutomiun, URanium EXtraction method (PUREX), - URanium EXtraction method (UREX), - TRansUranic Extraction method (TRUEX), - Selective ActiNide EXtraction method (SANEX)

10 There are several key items posing “vulnerability” in the civil nuclear fuel cycle, such as: Products of uranium enrichment (threat of HEU proliferation). Pure fissile materials extracted from irradiated nuclear fuel (threat of proliferation of other fissile materials). Direct irradiated nuclear fuel. REVIEW OF REPROCESSING METHODS

11 reactor-grade Pu. Is it A nonproliferation threat? Weapon-grade plutonium Reactor-grade plutonium uranium - 94 % fission products - 5 % plutonium (240, 239 & oth.) - 1 % Irradiated nuclear fuel contains Richard L. Garwin. Reprocessing isn't the answer, 6 August 2009 (issued by web site edition/op-eds/reprocessing-isnt-the-answer)

12 Could reactor-grade plutonium be used for nuclear weapon production? So let’s try to find an answer to that question Reactor-grade plutonium: use in nuclear weapon tests // ASNO information sheet, December 2006 Gerald E. Marsh and George S. Stanford. Bombs, Reprocessing, and Reactor Grade Plutonium. Richard L. Garwin. Reactor-Grade Plutonium Can be Used to Make Powerful and Reliable Nuclear Weapons: Separated plutonium in the fuel cycle must be protected as if it were nuclear weapons. J. Carson Mark, Explosive Properties of Reactor-Grade Plutonium, Science and Global Security, Vol.4, pp , The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?`

13 What is the difference between reactor- grade plutonium and weapon-grade plutonium in fact? 1. The critical mass for reactor-grade plutonium is about 13 kg and for weapon-grade plutonium that value is 10 kg. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?` The larger critical mass for reactor-grade plutonium means that about 30% more metal is needed to build a weapon.

14 2. The α-radioactivity of reactor- grade plutonium contributes 10.5 W/kg and weapon-grade is 2.3 W/kg. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?` That means the reactor-grade plutonium self-heats to OC and cooling system construction is necessary for a weapon until a few minutes before detonation. What is the difference between reactor- grade plutonium and weapon-grade plutonium in fact?

15 3. The neutron emission from Pu-240 contributes 360 neutrons/sec·g, as for weapon- grade plutonium that is about 66 neutrons/sec·g. The fissionable material is being compressed so that it becomes critical, and if neutron injection is optimal then criticality is maximum and explosion yield will near 20 kilotons. But if neutron injection does not coincide with the moment of maximum criticality then the weapon will have an explosive yield between 1 and 2 kilotons. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?` What is the difference between reactor- grade plutonium and weapon-grade plutonium in fact?

16 4. A mass of reactor-grade plutonium provides greater radiation exposure to a person than does weapon-grade plutonium. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?` At a distance of 1 meter from an unshielded 6 kg mass of each material, the radiation field is 30 millirem/hour for reactor-grade plutonium and 5 millirem/hour for weapon-grade. What is the difference between reactor- grade plutonium and weapon-grade plutonium in fact?

17 The Nuclear explosion test in 1962 in USA 1. A successful test was conducted in 1962, which used reactor-grade plutonium in a nuclear explosive in place of weapon-grade plutonium. 2. The yield was less than 20 kilotons. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?`

18 Two reasons for such a small yield 1. The problem with pre- initiation, i.e. early neutron emission. 2. Problem with effective cooling system of nuclear device The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?`

19 On the one hand… The technical task of making a nuclear weapon using reactor-grade plutonium with comparable yield (20 and more kilotons) is very difficult and complex. Big science infrastructure is necessary. Only a few countries have it. A decision to undertake this task does not make sense for these countries The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?`

20 On the other hand… In the case of using reactor-grade plutonium, for an explosion yield of up to 1 or 2 kilotons That is equivalent of 1000 truck bombs going off simultaneously at one point, plus the effects of nuclear radiation. I.e. as an aim of one of the terrorist organizations this is a perfect variant. The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?`

21 The answer is Reactor-grade plutonium is a real threat to the world and threat to nonproliferation The reactor-grade plutonium. Is it nonproliferation threat?` International Atomic Energy Agency

22 How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics Japan plutonium management

23 German plutonium management How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics

24 France plutonium management How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics

25 USA plutonium management How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics

26 Russia plutonium management How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics

27 Total plutonium amount in the world How much Pu do we have now? Official Statistics

28 Trying to find a solution to the “Plutonium problem” Study of the National Academy of Sciences On what to do with plutonium: it could be kept in storage facilities for an indefinitely long time; plutonium transformation into difficult of access state (for instance, mix it with high level waste and bury that mixture in deep underground repositories for final disposal or on the ocean floor, or as an alternative, plutonium deletion with underground nuclear explosions); it could be transmuted like an element or sending completely away from the human environment (use it like a fuel in nuclear plant with full recycling of fuel, or moving Pu away into outer space).

29 After many disputes, American experts concluded the following possible ways were best: plutonium use as a nuclear fuel; plutonium and fission products are removed and melted together with glass into a vitrified product that is encased in welded stainless steel canisters and moved to final repositories. Trying to find a solution to the “Plutonium problem”

30 My own opinion Pu is a strategic and energetic material. Proposals for final burial or disposal of plutonium are unreasonable; This author agrees with Prof. Richard Garwin about the necessity of attention and concentration on the problem forming a safe and economically competitive fuel cycle with plutonium burning. But before that technology, extracted plutonium must be moved to storages under total control of “NPT countries” and under safeguards of IAEA and irradiated nuclear fuel moved to storage locations in standard dry casks for future reprocessing Trying to find a solution to the “Plutonium problem”

31 How much time do we have? Join Report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency “Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand” Remaining uranium quantity: Uranium with cost less then 130 $/kg near the tons. So i.e. fissile (in advanced light water reactor) isotope (U235) near the tons. According to IAEA data, to 2020 world demand will be tons per one year. Simple mathematical calculation gives: Stocks of natural uranium (with cost less then 130 $/kg) remain for years.

32 In conclusion Richard L. Garwin. Reprocessing isn't the answer, 6 August 2009 (issued by web site “If fast reactors become safer than LWRs, and economically competitive with them as well, the world will be happy not to have wasted its plutonium by burning it once in an LWR rather than essentially forever in a fast reactor” Richard L. Garwin

33 Three little thanks Lisa Donohoe Project Manager, English Language and Nonproliferation (ELAN) Program, Education Program Cristina Hansell Director of the Newly Independent States Nonproliferation Program, NISNP And third one…

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35 Reprocessing of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel and "Plutonium Problem" Ostvald Roman, Associate professor Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russian fellows J.Martin Center of Nonproliferation Studies MIIS

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37 URANIUM PRICE


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