Major Positive Impact on Canada’s Environment, Climate Change, and Economy

via Fast-Neutron Reactors (FNRs), Recycling and Elimination of 50,000 tons CANDU Fuel Waste

For More Information Contact Dr. Peter Ottensmeyers
University of Toronto                                                                                                                                                                         (peter.ottensmeyer@utoronto.ca)

Preamble: the Ontario example

Ontario’s economy uses 70 GW of carbon power in its transportation, industry and residential sectors in addition to a 17 GW electric sector which is about 95% carbon-free. Ontario’s carbon-driven sectors can be electrified with nuclear power, the least expensive carbon-free power after hydro in Ontario. The technology to do so in environmentally responsible ways exists: fast-neutron reactors (FNRs). These power plants can recycle, consume, and simultaneously eliminate Canada’s existing 50,000 tons of highly radioactive stored CANDU fuel waste.

The FNR technologies were developed in the 1950/60s; fuel recycling in the 1970/80s. Commercial versions of fast-neutron reactors have operated in Russia since 1972, and are available in the USA from GE-Hitachi in North Carolina as factory-built small modular reactors at 300 MWe, the PRISM reactors.

Well over 400 reactor-years of experience on FNRs have been acquired worldwide. Canada currently has no FNRs.
No nuclear weapons have ever been developed or built using this technology.

Advantages in brief:

Economy (carbon-free energy with FNRs)

1 pellet of used CANDU fuel waste (~20 gm) in FNR                   produces energy of 571 barrels of oil

Each 1 ton of used CANDU fuel waste can produce                                    $ 1.5 billion carbon-free electricity

50,000 tons used CANDU fuel waste can produce                                    $ 75 trillion carbon-free electricity

 

Sustainability

10 tons of used CANDU fuel in FNRs give Ontario                               1 year of nuclear electricity (current levels)

50,000 tons existing stored used fuel in FNRs produce                        5,000 years of carbon-free energy (current levels)

 

Environment 1 (Climate Change — GHG emission avoidance)

10 tons (1 year supply for Ontario in FNRs)                  avoid                  100 million tons CO2 emissions

50,000 tons nuclear waste                                            avoid                  475 billion tons CO2 (15.5% of CO2 in atm.)

 

Environment 2 (“million-year” radiotoxicity reduction/elimination with recycling through FNRs)

Radiotoxicity decay of nuclear fuel waste today     requires                  400,000 years to decay to background

 

Time for elimination of 400,000 year toxicity

if recycled through FNRs:                           only                          45 years (Ontario MoE Feasibility Study)

42 years (NWMO paper, Ottawa 2016)

21 years (Pickering 15,000 tons used fuel only)

 

Residue of fission products (split U atoms) decays       in                 300 years (not 400,000 years)

(then fuel residues are worth $3 M / ton)

Safety:

FNRs tested under full power (49 times):                      with inactivated control rods / all cooling suddenly shut off

No other reactor type was tested like this                          Result:                  self-shutdown within 3 minutes

without automated intervention

without human intervention

Note:                  this type of reactor would have survived unscathed, with no consequences in

Fukushima

Three-Mile-Island

Chernobyl

 

Finances: (no new taxes or levies required by any level of government)

Start-up funds exist in federal and provincial (Ontario)Trust Funds for nuclear waste management of fuel

(currently at ~$ 9 billion for unnecessary Deep Geological Repository (DGR) costing $20-40 billion).

Redirection to fuel waste recycling with FNRs is possible within Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, Section [20(2)].

Post-start-up, technology is self-supporting and self-propagating from sale of electricity.