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Reprocessed Uranium

  1. Nov 1, 2013 #1
    How come this isn't done in the United States yet? Is it all political or is there a real reason we have not done this? I believe we started a facility to do this prior to Three Mile Island's accident, but I think we abandoned it ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Nov 2, 2013 #3
    So far reprocessed uranium costs more than natural one... when this changes, it would be a significant incentive for reprocessing.
  5. Jan 9, 2014 #4
    Purely political - mostly by those who oppose nuclear power. This lack of US reprocessing gives an artificial argument against nuclear power (where do we store the waste???), while solving the problem removes this 'issue'. Other countries reprocess in a very safe way.
  6. Jan 10, 2014 #5
    Well, sort of. French reprocessing seems to be working well.

    UK's plants are plagued by various issues, nothing horrible, but still. An undetected leak in the basement here, bad managenet and cost overrun there...

    Russian reprocessing (and nuclear industry in general) is sub-par to the Western one - inexplicably, not many people take notice. I assume it's a part of stereotyping Russians as brave, but careless people, so "it's how you expect it to be done there".

    To be exact: for many years reprocessing effluents were just dumped into rivers and lakes, to an extent which makes Hanford site looks spiky clean. For one, they had a huge underground waste tank explosion in 1957 - nothing anywhere near that ever happened in the West.

    They eventually stopped crapping Cs-137 and Sr-90 all over their hapless population.

    Yet, Mayak plant and environs must be quite a mess even today.

    I don't know much about India's reprocessing plants. I assume it's not large-scale.

    Japan did not start their first reprocessing plant yet.

    Who else? China?

    I don't count military reprocessing for the purposes of Pu extraction, so Pakistan is out.

    To sum up, "Other countries reprocess in a very safe way" probably should read "France and UK reprocess in a very safe way".
  7. Jan 10, 2014 #6
    Appreciate the clarification :-} Was thinking mostly of the French...
  8. Jan 11, 2014 #7


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    Utilization of reprocessed U, or Pu (in MOX), is more of a technological and economic matter, rather than political. The fuel fabrication (pellets and fuel rods, and to a lesser extent the assembly) must be handled remotely, and that is a problem for precision engineered products. Visual inspection is also problematic.

    The US has significant U resources and enrichment capabilities, so fuel using reprocessed U or Pu is not economic.

    The disposition of spent fuel, or the by-product (high level waste aka fission products) of reprocessing, is a political issue. The US government has failed to implement a repository for commercial spent fuel or HLW - in 30 years.

    http://www.bc.edu/dam/files/schools/law/lawreviews/journals/bcealr/28_1/05_TXT.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Jan 13, 2014 #8
    Indeed, it is not profitable. *For now*.

    For me, the most sensible policy would be to store spent fuel (dry storage), waiting for the inevitable time when its reprocessing will become profitable.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the longer spent fuel is stored, the easier it will be to reporcess: a lot of nasty stuff would decay.
    For example, 100-year old spent fuel has about 1000 times less Kr-85 and tritium than freshly unloaded one, and 10 times less Cs-137 and Sr-90.

    So, to me it looks like storing fuel for a long time makes perfect economic sense. (OTOH, storing it *forever*, that it, disposing of it without reprocessing, does not).
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