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The Development and Innovation of Spent Fuel Reprocessing in Fuel Cycle

[+] Author Affiliations
Guang Jun Chen, Yu Lin Cui, Guo Guo Zhang, Hong Jun Yao

The 404 Company Ltd., China National Nuclear Corporation, Lanzhou, Gansu, China

Paper No. ICONE18-29632, pp. 465-468; 4 pages
  • 18th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • 18th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering: Volume 1
  • Xi’an, China, May 17–21, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4929-3
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


With an increased population and an increasing demand for power, nuclear power has attracted an increasing attention and mass nuclear power plant have been built in different countries in the past several decades. At present, about ten thousands ton spent fuels are discharged from nuclear power plant every year and the estimated capacity will approximately add up to 5×105 ton. Therefore, spent fuel reprocessing, by which the co-extraction and separation as well as purification of Uranium and Plutonium could be realized and ensure the recycle of uranium resources and the management of nuclear waste, is a vital step in nuclear fuel cycle including two major strategies, i.e. once-through cycle and closed fuel cycle. It is worth noting that the utilization of MOX fuel made by plutonium mixed with uranium has been successfully achieved in thermal reactor. Fortunately, the middle experiment plant of china spent fuel reprocessing has been being debugged and will be operated completely in future two years. Various reprocessing schemes have been proposed for the extraction of actinides from fission products and other elements presented in spent nuclear fuel. However, after numerous studies of alternate reprocessing methods and intensive searches for better solvents, the PUREX process remains the prime reprocessing method for spent nuclear fuels throughout the world. High burning and strong radioactive spent fuel resulting from the evolution of various reactors drive the development of the advanced PUREX technology, which emphasizes the separation of neptunium and technetium besides the separation of the Uranium and Plutonium from the majority of highly active fission products. In addition, through Partitioning and Transmutation method, some benefits such as segregating the actinides and long life fission products from the high level waste can be obtained. The GANEX process exploited by CEA, which roots in COEX process belonged to advanced PUREX process, considers the separation of the actinides and long life fission products. The study on the pyro-chemical processing such as the method of electro-deposition from molten salts has still not replaced the traditional PUREX process due to various reasons. In conclusion, the future PUREX process will focus on the modified process including predigesting the technical flowsheets and reducing reprocessing costs and using salt-less reagent in order to minimize the waste production.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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