Assessing The Environmental Impact of Nuclear Power Generation

Ritsumeikan University researchers make a life cycle assessment of resource use in nuclear power generation from uranium

Peer-Reviewed Publication

RITSUMEIKAN UNIVERSITY

Life cycle resource use of nuclear power generation considering total material requirement
IMAGE: ASSESSING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION view more CREDIT: RITSUMEIKAN UNIVERSITY

In a constantly evolving world, rapidly growing populations coupled with urbanization and industrialization are leading to an ever-increasing demand for energy. The challenge today lies in meeting these energy requirements while keeping global warming in check—a condition which fossil fuels do not fulfil. In an effort to mitigate the environmental degradation and natural resource depletion linked to the usage of fossil fuels, nuclear power is being promoted as an alternative source of energy.

Conducting a life cycle assessment (LCA) of any energy source is important to understand how it affects the environment. A lot of studies have, therefore, assessed the life cycle cumulative energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to electricity generated via nuclear power. However, most of these studies looked at the GHG emissions and the amount of energy consumed, which might lead to a less comprehensive assessment of the environmental impact and sustainability of electricity generated via nuclear power. For example, we are yet to understand the total resources used during this process.

In an attempt to provide a more holistic perspective, a group of scientists from Ritsumeikan University, Japan analyzed the environmental impact of nuclear power generation through a less-considered measure—the volume of resources extracted from the lithosphere during the life cycle of this process. Their study focused on the mining methods, the nuclear reactor types, and the type of uranium fuel cycle system used during nuclear power generation, and how these alter the process’ environmental impact. They also assessed the different grades of uranium ore mined—a highly variable entity—and its effect on the total material requirement (TMR). This paper was made available online on 8 June 2022 and published in Volume 363 of the Journal of Cleaner Production on 20 August 2022.

An LCA of the resource use for 1kWh nuclear power generation based on uranium was performed by analyzing TMR,” says Associate Professor Shoki Kosai, the corresponding author of the study. “We looked at both open and closed fuel cycles, and three types of uranium mining methods: open-pit mining, underground mining, and in situ leaching (ISL), apart from other variables in nuclear power generation, for a thorough LCA.” GHG emissions and natural resource usage were subsequently evaluated for these variables.

The researchers found that the TMR coefficient (indicating the mining intensity) of enriched uranium fuel was the highest, followed by nuclear fuel, reprocessed uranium fuel, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, and lastly, yellow-cake. The grade of uranium ore had a huge impact on the TMR coefficient as well, which meant that TMR varied significantly with different mining methods. In situ leaching had the lowest TMR. However, the mining method had a more significant impact on resource utilization as compared to its impact on GHG emissions.

Discussing the impact of fuel cycles, Professor Eiji Yamasue says, “We found that a closed cycle that reprocesses uranium fuel uses 26% lower resources than an open cycle that does not reuse its by-products.”

Additionally, it was found that the natural resource use of nuclear power generation was similar to that of renewable energy and significantly lower than that of thermal power generation. Furthermore, the global warming potential and TMR of nuclear power generation showed very different trends. Along with lower GHG emissions, nuclear power generation also used fewer natural resources, making it an environmentally favorable source of power generation.

Maintaining a circular economy, even for resource use, is important. Our findings can assist policy makers in formulating long-term energy policies which consider electricity and power generation using nuclear power,” concludes Dr. Kosai. 

Is the future nuclear? It certainly is a possibility!

***

Reference

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.132530

About Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Ritsumeikan University is one of the most prestigious private universities in Japan. Its main campus is in Kyoto, where inspiring settings await researchers. With an unwavering objective to generate social symbiotic values and emergent talents, it aims to emerge as a next-generation research university. It will enhance researcher potential by providing support best suited to the needs of young and leading researchers, according to their career stage. Ritsumeikan University also endeavors to build a global research network as a “knowledge node” and disseminate achievements internationally, thereby contributing to the resolution of social/humanistic issues through interdisciplinary research and social implementation.

Website: http://en.ritsumei.ac.jp/

About Associate Professor Shoki Kosai from Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Shoki Kosai is an Associate Professor at the Global Innovation Research Organization in Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He has a Masters in Renewable Energy from the University of Malaya, Malaysia. He completed his doctoral program from Kyoto University, Japan in 2020. He has 30 publications to his name. Dr. Kosai’s research focuses on natural resource conservation, renewable energy and creating a cleaner and greener environment. He has presented several papers in the IET Clean Energy and Technology Conference.

About Professor Eiji Yamasue from Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Eiji Yamasue is a Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He completed his PhD from Tokyo Institute of Technology in 2000. His research interests include industrial ecology, energy and resources, etc. He has authored several books and has published 322 papers with over 1600 citations to his credit. He was the recipient of two science prizes in 2017 including Energy and Material Efficiency and CO2 Reduction in the Steel Industry Best Poster Award. He has received several grants-in-aid for scientific research as well as competitive grants.


JOURNAL

Journal of Cleaner Production

DOI

10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.132530 

METHOD OF RESEARCH

Computational simulation/modeling

SUBJECT OF RESEARCH

Not applicable

ARTICLE TITLE

Life cycle resource use of nuclear power generation considering total material requirement

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

20-Aug-2022

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June 22, 2022 2:06 am

Pretty remarkable to claim to assess environmental impact without even mentioning waste disposal!

Vuk
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 2:09 am

Never mind that, King Coal is marching his army up the hill again:

Global spending on coal projects is expected to surge by 10pc this year amid efforts to bolster energy security as Russia’s war on Ukraine adds to pressure on fuel markets.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects about $115bn (£93bn) to be invested on coal supply chains this year, up from around $105bn in 2021, which was itself about 10pc higher than the previous year.
The spending is being led by China and India, the IEA added, with the former trying to avoid a repeat of the electricity rationing it endured in 2021.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/06/22/global-spending-coal-projects-expected-surge/

Jeroen B.
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 2:36 am

Pretty remarkable waste disposal never gets mentioned for wind and solar either.

another ian
Reply to  Jeroen B.
June 22, 2022 3:13 am

It seems you have all been ignoring the up-front of “Renewable Energy”.

It plain and simply means you have to renew the whole bloody plant about every 15 – 20 years. Doesn’t need any consideration of power produced or recycling problems.

Prove me wrong.

Jeroen B.
Reply to  another ian
June 22, 2022 3:51 am

The only thing “renewable” involved there is OPM, certainly neither a product or service.

Drake
Reply to  another ian
June 22, 2022 5:10 pm

I like that an. ian,

I always wondered why they called it renewable, now I know the real reason.

Duane
Reply to  another ian
June 22, 2022 6:53 pm

Nope the typical useful life for wind and solar is 35 years – same as any fossil fuel plant. All mechanical/electrical systems have a useful economic life of 35 plus or minus years, or less. A plant can operate longer than that if the owner is willing to bear the maintenance costs that climb with age. But it is uneconomical.

J N
Reply to  Duane
June 22, 2022 9:28 pm

You do not have the slightest clue of what you usually say… Give an example of a solar PV installation of wind generators that have worked for 35 yers. You also called bullshit (best word to say when we don’t know with we are talking about, as in your case) about Neodymium and radioactive waste above. An average wind generator uses about 600 kg of neodymium. To produce this lanthanide, you need to process thousands of kg of rock to get concentrates of two minerals: Monazite and bastnäsite. Both minerals have radioactive actinides in their crystal structure. In the process of refining rare earths, these actinides are released as waste. For this reason, wind power is now the second source of radioactive waste from energy production after nuclear power itself. This does not include the hydrofluoric acid slurry that is produced for every ton of concentrated lanthanides. Just look it up. It’s not too hard….

PCman999
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 12:50 am

Duane, you pulled that number out of your butt – even the manufacturers say only 25 years. Offshore and near shore units won’t make it that long without replacing rotors damaged by particulate like salt and ice in the air.

And it’s not an excuse that economics will sideline older, inefficient units before they wear out. These things are still in development and should never have been deployed in such a widespread manner especially if one truly cared about the environment. They should have been confined to the r&d stage until say 15MW units that will be deployed soon, or even better 20-30MW units, that way no resources wasted or nature areas destroyed by deploying units that are obsolete soon after installation. The technology is not mature yet and it’s missing the critical piece that is storage.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  PCman999
June 23, 2022 2:23 am

rooftop pv in aus is doing well to manage 15yrs and most seem to fail around yr 10

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 27, 2022 6:52 pm

That’s not what the Aussie’s on Quora claim, “10% loss at 30 years”.

Dennis G. Sandberg
Reply to  PCman999
June 27, 2022 6:50 pm

what is the projected cost for replacing a propeller on a 30 MW offshore wind turbine? Rounded off to the nearest $million.

Graeme#4
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 4:04 pm

Absolute rubbish. A recent study has noted that after only 10 years of wind turbine operation, the output starts to degrade significantly. Most onshore wind turbines will be lucky to survive 20 years.

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:32 pm

When the real world doesn’t cooperate, Duane just makes up the numbers he needs.
BTW, most fossil fuel and nuclear plants run a minimum of 50 years, and many exceed 60.

Last edited 13 days ago by MarkW
Duane
Reply to  Jeroen B.
June 22, 2022 6:49 pm

Sounds cute and gets you a lot of ignorant upvotes to write what you did. However you obviously don’t understand the difference in costs between disposing junk metals and plastics and extremely radioactive extremely long half life waste spent reactor fuels.

But in favor of nukes is the reprocessing of spent fuels which is practiced in other nations but outlawed in the US. Much of the “waste” can be recycled into useable fuel. And breeder reactors can create more fuel than they consume. But lawmakers here must get over their squeamishness over producing plutonium. Sure, Pu is potentially bomb making material but we’ve been effectively practicing nuclear materials security for nearly 8 decades already.

J N
Reply to  Duane
June 22, 2022 9:32 pm

You should read a lot more about the materials (elements) used for solar and PV and how they are obtained. This could avoid you the embarrassment of being watched in your own ignorance by calling others ignorants.

Gregory Kelly
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 6:10 am

yes, it is true that we could have had breeder reactors in the US, in fact one was under construction in Tennessee but a Democrat named Jimmy Carter stopped that. If ignorance is bliss Democrats are walking around in mental heaven!

Duane
Reply to  Jeroen B.
June 22, 2022 7:04 pm

Probably because any such waste is no different than your household waste, or other typical industrial waste.

PCman999
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 12:59 am

Really? Can the typical household or industrial waste be used to fuel future reactors??
Thorium is one of the waste products from mining rare earths, and makes a great fuel for future molten salt reactors and we won’t have to mine it as there’s lots of big radioactive piles of it where they mine the materials for the wind turbine and EV motors.

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:36 pm

I’ve never seen someone so utterly eager to demonstrate just how ignorant he is.

Derg
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 5:12 am

Easily solvable. What are we going to do with that concrete buried in the ground or solar panels sitting in landfills ?

Drake
Reply to  Derg
June 22, 2022 5:11 pm

Just consider how MUCH concrete is buried for solar and wind. As TRUMP! would say HUUGGGHH.

Duane
Reply to  Drake
June 22, 2022 6:56 pm

A lot less concrete that is poured and eventually removed for any fossil fuel plant.

J N
Reply to  Duane
June 22, 2022 9:35 pm
  • Clearly you never saw the concrete base of a wind generator being installed, as I did hundreds of times…. Now count how many you need to get to have the same amount of energy produced by any fossil fuel plant. Man, your ignorance is even funny! Wind generation costs thousands of tons more concrete than any fossil fuel power plant. The math is easy.
J N
Reply to  Duane
June 22, 2022 9:52 pm

To ease the math for you, an average sized wind generator uses 2500 tons of concrete in the base (most of it underground, maybe that’s why you are not imagining it). A 1000 MW PWR power plant usually uses 63930 tons of concrete. This gives about 25.6 wind generators of concrete equivalent. Now tell me that these last 25.6 ones produce the same amount of energy than the first one. Go figure….

J N
Reply to  J N
June 23, 2022 6:53 am

Concluding, with 1.5gw wind generators you will need about 666.6 of these things to have the same production as a PWR station. “Costing” each 2500 tons of concrete, you will need about 1 666 500 tons of concrete to have the same energy production with wind power. This shows that you need about 26 times more concrete to produce energy with wind power when compared with fossil fuel generation. You were close!!!!! Considering other materials, such as cooper and mainly lanthanides, and also the lifetime of each and space needed, renewables are, indeed, a lot worst for the environment when all the circumstances of their use are considered.

MarkW
Reply to  J N
June 23, 2022 5:43 pm

J N, you are still off by a factor of 3. You have built enough windmills so that the faceplate power is the same, but you still need factor in the fact that the windmills will be lucky to be producing power 30% of the time. Compared to a fossil fuel plant, which even a bad year will exceed 90%.

J N
Reply to  MarkW
June 23, 2022 6:00 pm

Perfectly agree!!! What I said would be true if wind was not an intermittent energy source. Considering that it isn’t, you are perfectly right!!! Nice catch.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 2:26 am

fossil fuel plants do 50 or so years and the turbines can be replaced and the old motors recycled as scrap metal
the buildings are usually very well made and last far longer

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:39 pm

Duane, do you ever actually research something before opening your ignorant mouth?
Yes, one windmill uses less concrete than does a fossil fuel plant.
The problem is that it takes several hundred windmills to equal just the name plate rating of a fossil fuel plant. Then when you factor in the fact that you will be lucky if the windmill is working 30% of the time while the fossil fuel plant will never drop below 90%, it gets even worse for your fantasy life.

Duane
Reply to  Derg
June 22, 2022 6:55 pm

Same thing we do with every other physical plant that is retired at the end of its useful life. Decommission and tear it down. Sell any useful scrap materials.

Do you guys seriously believe any plant of any kind lasts forever?

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:44 pm

How much do you believe it costs to break up a 200 ton concrete block that goes down into the ground over 20 feet?

griff
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 6:30 am

And decommissioning… UK power stations shut down in the last decade will still be in the decommissioning process until the 2080s

J N
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 6:52 am

Radioactive lakes from neodymium refinement in Baotou and Bayan Obo, used in wind generators and electronics, will be in decommissioning process in the next 10 000 years at least.
https://news.sky.com/story/clean-energys-dirty-secret-pond-filled-with-toxic-material-in-northern-china-is-by-product-of-rare-earth-processing-12592342

Last edited 14 days ago by J N
Duane
Reply to  J N
June 22, 2022 6:57 pm

Bullshit utter bullshit

Last edited 14 days ago by Duane
J N
Reply to  Duane
June 22, 2022 9:36 pm

Holly ignorance….

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:45 pm

What Duane says anytime he’s confronted with something that violates his religious principles.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  J N
June 23, 2022 2:28 am

and the poor people living in those areas suffer hugely

Mr.
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 7:28 am

jobs!, jobs!, jobs! . . .

Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 8:46 am
Redge
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 10:13 am

There’s no child labour involved in a nuclear plant, mate

Duane
Reply to  Redge
June 22, 2022 7:01 pm

There’s massive amounts of child labor in the clothes you wear, the household products you buy and use, the buildings you live and work in, the internal combustion vehicles you drive, etc etc. Don’t pretend to be holier than thou. Just admit it: you are a selective hypocritical Luddite like most of the other commenters and writers here at WUWT.

PCman999
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 1:09 am

Lumping unrelated things together and lying doesn’t help your cause. And that said I would rather see a young person helping put food on their family’s table working a sewing machine in a factory setting than waste deep in mud with heavy buckets of rock at a cobalt mine.

And what part of my house or office building or my Japanese built 2012 Mazda 5 was made with child labour?

MarkW
Reply to  PCman999
June 23, 2022 5:48 pm

Don’t expect Duane to explain his nonsense, or even to try and defend it.

Like Nick, the further behind he gets, the quicker he tries to change the subject.

Gregory Kelly
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 6:15 am

talk about a huge vertical accretion of male bovine excrement!

Redge
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 10:44 am

Duane,

Who’s being hypocritcal?

I accept the world isn’t perfect and the poor are being exploited – same as it ever was

Griff on the other hand is a hypocrit because he uses all tyhe mod cons whilst decrying the industry that needs fossil fuels to make his life easier

I campaign for clean water and sanitation for the millions who die every year both here and elsewhere, and make sustantial donations

What do you do to help?

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:47 pm

As usual, when confronted with facts he can’t refute, Duane goes into over drive inventing data to make everyone else look as bad as he does.

BTW, I just love the way you declare that anyone who doesn’t want to return to a technology that was abandoned over 100 years ago, a luddite.

Do you even know the meaning of the words you use?

Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 10:59 am

Thorium Liquid Salts Cooled Reactors https://www.copenhagenatomics.com

Drake
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 5:13 pm

THAT is why you DON’T shut down nukes. If they were built right, most of them can run for 100 or more years.

That 100 years means you would not even begin to think about shutting them down until 2080.

PCman999
Reply to  Drake
June 23, 2022 1:21 am

Exactly, once the plant is in place there is so much concrete and other machinery there that it makes sense to keep going practically forever.

It makes sense to keep the containment building and replace/upgrade the caldera, the steam generators, steam turbines as needed. It doesn’t make sense to completely dismantle and throw away a reactor plant.

Now with metal fatigue and other issues wind turbines really do wear out and one isn’t going to replace it with the exact same size, the new ones available would be monstrously bigger and would need a much wider and deeper concrete foundation – that you have to pour out in the middle of nowhere in a wildlife or rural area.

It’s really stupid to do a widespread deployment when wind turbines are going in size and still improving and the technology is not mature.

MarkW
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 6:11 pm

The reactor core is going to be rather hot and will take several decades before the radiation drops enough for it to be dismantled. That was known and planned for before the construction even started. All they have to do is just seal it up until that time, it doesn’t add significantly to the cost.

Duane
Reply to  griff
June 22, 2022 6:57 pm

Bullshit. Utter bullshit

MarkW
Reply to  Duane
June 23, 2022 5:50 pm

You really need to come up with a better response for every time you are at a loss for something intelligent to say.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 2:27 am

well thats good cos theyll need to STOP and repair and use em
unlike SA who blew theirs up in suspicious haste and will pay for the stupidity

Redge
Reply to  griff
June 23, 2022 10:49 am

Ever heard of the tails management facility?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 6:56 am

“… mentioning waste disposal!”

Yes, all the solar cells bought from China will become our hazardous waste problem in about 20 years. Lets not forget that the volume of dead solar cells will be orders of magnitude more than the volume of nuclear waste to produce the same amount of electricity and that a nuclear reactor has about twice the useful life as a solar cell.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 22, 2022 10:07 am

3 times at least.

Drake
Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 22, 2022 5:17 pm

Possibly 10 times or more for the reactor itself

All the generation piping and equipment can be replaced with newer more efficient systems since the reactor is just a heat source.

AND if waste is recycled as in France, very little waste.

J N
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 6:59 am

Disposal appears 6 times in the original article and it is the 3rd word from the right in the image that illustrates the post. Once you seemed like a reasonable person, now you make a point of always passing yourself off as a jerk.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  J N
June 22, 2022 9:07 am

Disposal does not appear once in the text given in the above article, which is represented to be a summary provided by Ritsumeikan University.

Do you not find it strange that you have to go to the full article to find text mention of “disposal”?

And yes, “Disposal” is indeed found in the figure accompanying the article . . . in the context of one of five arrows comprising a full cycle. This is highly misleading in that disposal is the anthesis of recycling.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:52 am

Nick was not addressing the summary, he was criticizing the assessment itself.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 4:37 pm

MarkW,

You mind-reader, you.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 6:13 pm

Just reading what he actually wrote.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 23, 2022 7:29 am

That would be, obviously, your assessment.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 5:51 pm

Just basic, standard English. You should try learning it.

Drake
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 5:19 pm

Nuclear fuel can be reprocessed.

J N
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 9:11 pm

Ok, for a 6 yr old child instructions:

Above is not the article but an opinion about an article.

Last edited 14 days ago by J N
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  J N
June 23, 2022 7:30 am

That would be, obviously, your opinion.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 5:53 pm

I’m guessing that you think you are being cute.
Or perhaps you are like Duane and simply can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 24, 2022 12:06 pm

.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 9:12 am

In this matter, I have to support Nick Stokes’ statement with respect to what is presented by WUWT as the summary of Ritsumeikan University publication. A word search of the presented text reveals there is no hit on “disposal”.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:11 am

If it included everything that was in the original article, would it still be a summary of the original article.

Regardless, here’s Nick’s comment:

Pretty remarkable to claim to assess environmental impact without even mentioning waste disposal!

He’s not addressing the summary, he’s addressing the assessment. Unless he’s read the entire article, how could he make such assumptions about the assessment.

As usual, Nick is blowing smoke and he got caught again.

MarkW
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 11:02 am

Pretty remarkable to still believe that waste disposal is actually necessary.
Reprocess it, don’t dispose of it.
I thought you greenies liked recycling?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 11:43 am

That horse died long ago, Nick. At least from a technical perspective. You can stop whaling on it now.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
June 22, 2022 12:01 pm

OK, so it’s a solved problem? Who is doing it?

Richard Page
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 1:42 pm

So far? France, Russia, Japan, UK and India. Although only the first 3 countries are reprocessing lwr fuel (U-235); UK and India are reprocessing other types of nuclear fuels.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Richard Page
June 23, 2022 2:34 am

usa reprocesses its waste into DU missiles, not sure what else? they were buying a lot of decommissioned warheads from Russia for some time as well, could never work out why you guys didnt use your own masses of old icbms etc at home for the same

Richard Page
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 3:00 am

At one point the US military was using DU for loads of things – the M1A1HA used DU armour, the cores of AT rounds (tank gun rounds as well as 20/30mm cannon rounds) were made out of DU instead of Tungsten. This was still going on until the Gulf War I believe.

MarkW
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 5:54 pm

DU doesn’t come from nuclear waste. It’s the uranium that left after the radioactive fraction has been removed. It comes from the front end processing, not the back end re-processing.

As to using de-commissioned US warheads, we were. I’m not surprised that you didn’t know that.

Last edited 13 days ago by MarkW
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Richard Page
June 23, 2022 8:43 am

France generates 2 kg of radioactive waste per inhabitant per year (population of 67 million as of June 2021). . . They use the term “waste” when something has no possible further uses, in contrast to “recoverable material”, which can be recycled and reused . . . 10% of total radioactive waste is long-lived waste that is stored pending the availability of a disposal facility, in accordance with the French laws of 1991 and 2006.
(source: https://www.orano.group/en/unpacking-nuclear/all-about-radioactive-waste-in-france )

As of June 2020, according to various assessments, the present mass of accumulated nuclear waste in Russia is estimated at a total 500 million tonnes, with that figure continuing to grow.
(source: https://tunneltalk.com/Russia-17Jun2019-Russia-to-improve-national-system-of-nuclear-waste-management.php )

Japan plans to dump just over 1 million tons of nuclear wastewater, predominately from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, into the Pacific Ocean.
(source: https://www.civilbeat.org/2022/04/scientists-japans-plan-to-dump-nuclear-waste-into-the-pacific-ocean-may-not-be-safe/ )

As of February 2022, the UK currently stores its 133,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste above ground, and the quantity is projected to swell to more than 4 million cubic meters in future.
(source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2309444-cost-of-new-uk-underground-nuclear-waste-facility-jumps-to-53-billion/ )

In 1986, it was estimated that by the year 2000, India would have 8,000 cubic meters of high-level nuclear waste.
(source: https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/28104693740.pdf )
In Web searches, the only update to this number that I could find is this:
“. . . we estimate the HLW inventory resulting from reprocessing all the fuel irradiated till 31 December 2000, to be 4992 m^3 . The corresponding cumulative production of ILW and LLW is 34,944 and 209,664 m^3 respectively.
(source: “Estimating nuclear waste production in India”, M.V. Ramana, University of British Columbia – Vancouver, published Dec 2001; free download available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298260343_Estimating_nuclear_waste_production_in_India )

Bottom line: recycling/reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear “waste” at a 100% level is simply not possible . . . it is surprising that some would think that it is.

Richard Page
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 1:57 pm

I think what you mean is that recycling/reprocessing of nuclear waste at a 100% level is simply not economically viable in the present economic climate – ie when nuclear fuels are cheaper to mine than to reprocess.

MarkW
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 2:06 pm

The US was doing it until Jimmy Carter stopped it.

Drake
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 5:21 pm

Wow, that was hard.

Google France nuclear reprocessing, first hit.

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/frances-efficiency-in-the-nuclear-fuel-cycle-what-can-oui-learn

Reply to  Drake
June 22, 2022 8:45 pm

From that link
” In doing so, the French nuclear industry can recover uranium and plutonium from the used fuel for reuse, thereby also reducing the volume of high-level waste.”
Yes, they can remove U and Pu. But that doesn’t do anything about the fission products, which can have a half-life of many years. In fact, recovering U and Pu makes more fission products.

MarkW
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 5:57 pm

High level wastes by definition do not have long half-lives.

Let me see if I have this correct, it is your belief that chemically separating U and PU from other radioactive wastes, results in more radioactive materials being created?

DonM
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 1:44 pm

stokes,

It’s really weird. You tout solutions to problems that don’t exist, then complain about solutions to problems (lack of energy for a healthy world society) that are real.

R_G
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 3:33 pm

That’s beyond stupid comment considering that no one in the “green” camp worry or even consider enviromental impact of used solar panels/ wind turbines disposal. Again picking on strawman argument when truth does not suit the green narrative.

Reply to  R_G
June 22, 2022 6:23 pm

Safely disposing of plutonium (or Sr-90 etc) is a much weightier issue than dealing with silicon. As indicated by the fact that nobody is actually doing it. You don’t need a Yucca Mountain for old blades.

You can’t make a terror weapon out of solar panels.

R_G
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 6:55 pm

Not really, the volume of nuclear waste is negligible in comparison to solar panels and wind blades waste. There is very efficient technology snd security plans currently used to deal with the nuclear waste and big part of it is also reprocessed. There is currently no similar reprocessing technology for the spent solar panels nor for the blades, maybe in the future but not now.
The bogey man argument of nuclear terrorism is also pretty weak as it is very difficult to acquire safely nuclear fuel without sofisticated equipment. More likely source of radioactive material for terrorism is in medical facilities (blood irradiators, nuclear medicine departments isotops used for diagnosis and treatment etc) – one of the problem I had to addressed in my line of duties.

Reply to  R_G
June 22, 2022 8:49 pm

And the volume of panels and blades is small compared with the routine waste of a city. But radioactive waste is uniquely dangerous, which is why all around the world tons of fission products are sitting in temporary storage. No-one has a satisfactory solution.

R_G
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 22, 2022 11:17 pm

Routine waste of city will degrades in short time while panels and blades will need thousands of years unless new technology is developed. Tons of fission products will fit in small number of barrels (embedd in glass), some of those fission isotops have short half time and will decay quickly. What is left are long lived isotops that are easily stored without problems as the activity is usually low. The main issue is a public paranoia created by antynuclear lobby/activists fed by poor general physics education of average man.

Reply to  R_G
June 23, 2022 2:36 am

The huge amount of glass in city waste will last at least as long as the panels and blades.

R_G
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 4:23 pm

The barrels with isotops are not stored in cities waste facilities. Ideally, they are stored in old dry mine shafts. Australia has excellent sites for storing such waste if we ever have nuclear plants in a future.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 9:21 am

” . . . all around the world tons of fission products are sitting in temporary storage.”

The actual number is well over 100,000 tons per links referenced in my posts below.

Your last sentence is spot on.

Last edited 13 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
PCman999
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 1:28 am

You haven’t tried hard enough.

Think space based solar powered laser.

Richard Page
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 3:10 am

“As indicated by the fact that nobody is doing it.” It would be far easier for all concerned if you actually did your own research, rather than relying on everybody else to correct your (easily avoidable and ignorant) mistakes. There are several reprocessing plants making reprocessed MOX fuel out of plutonium and uranium and at least a couple specialising in reprocessing plutonium, not to mention the military reprocessing sites which (I believe) reprocess both plutonium and uranium, possibly as MOX as well.

Last edited 13 days ago by Richard Page
MarkW
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 5:58 pm

No need to dispose of plutonium, make use of it.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 2:20 am

err they did! in the closed loop use of spent fuels
We found that a closed cycle that reprocesses uranium fuel uses 26% lower resources than an open cycle that does not reuse its by-products.”

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 23, 2022 2:35 am

That says that they get energy from the fuel. It doesn’t say what it does for radioactive waste.

J N
Reply to  Nick Stokes
June 23, 2022 7:02 am

And what do you suggest to do with radioactive waste from wind and solar power that comes from lanthanides production?

Steve Case
June 22, 2022 2:10 am

 The challenge today lies in meeting these energy requirements while keeping global warming in check…
________________________________________

The required ass kissing statement.

RobK
June 22, 2022 2:19 am

If you want to get to zero emissions; I wouldn’t start from here.

Vuk
Reply to  RobK
June 22, 2022 2:36 am

Bruniquel Cave, I was reading about some time ago might be a good place to start (again) from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruniquel_Cave

Last edited 14 days ago by Vuk
Old Man Winter
Reply to  RobK
June 22, 2022 5:14 am

“There are enough batteries in the world today only to power global average electricity
consumption for 75 seconds. Even though the supply is being scaled up rapidly, by 2030
the world’s batteries would still cover less than 11 minutes“!

Bjorn Lomborg wrote about “Dharnai, an Indian village that Greenpeace in 2014 tried to turn into the
country’s first solar-powered community”. It was a disaster!

With only 75 seconds of battery backup globally- don’t blink, you may miss its effect. This is why
Greenies need to keep the “totally evil” 24/7 solar & the “somewhat evil” nuclear in the mix as viable
options, with carbon capture as to means to justify being able to do that with 24/7 solar. Battery
storage is very expensive. The scamsters need those evil sources & they know they need
them but won’t admit that truth, even to The True Believers™!

Originally appeared- WSJ 6/20/22-
https://carbonneutralcoalition.com/the-rich-worlds-climate-hypocrisy/

Last edited 14 days ago by Old Man Winter
Richard Page
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 22, 2022 8:52 am

Battery storage is expensive and getting more so – with a very finite amount of raw materials, decisions will have to be made (and implemented, by force if necessary) as to where those resources should be allocated. Batteries for storage would likely be high up the list with domestic car batteries right near the bottom with laptop and phone batteries. Sooner rather than later, when those materials become more scarce, EV’s for private use are likely to become a dim and distant memory.

MarkW
Reply to  Richard Page
June 22, 2022 11:14 am

EV’s for private use are likely to become a dim and distant memory.

Which was probably the plan all along.
Note that there were never any plans for upgrading the electrical grid to handle the huge new load.

Drake
Reply to  Richard Page
June 22, 2022 5:32 pm

But, But, But the lithium is batteries is 100% recyclable!

sarc/off

Chris Hanley
June 22, 2022 3:05 am

As has often been said any supposed climate worrier who is not prepared to seriously consider nuclear is not genuine and must have other motivations.

DMacKenzie
Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 22, 2022 6:41 am

“…other motivations…”
Only a belief that a 16th century lifestyle is wonderful.

Jtom
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 22, 2022 7:51 am

Which they do. It was pre-capitalism, so it must have been the Golden Age of Man.

PCman999
Reply to  Jtom
June 23, 2022 1:34 am

Capitalism goes back to the stone age when people first traded for things they couldn’t get or make themselves. Even more modern visages of capitalism like stocks are over 1000 years old, and commodities markets must be even older.

MarkW
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 22, 2022 11:15 am

But only for the little people. They believe that they will be able to continue their 21st century, jet setting life style.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Chris Hanley
June 22, 2022 9:25 am

“Seriously consider” is far, far different than “accept”.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:17 am

If you aren’t prepared to “accept” after “seriously considering”, then you were never “seriously considering” in the first place.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 2:50 pm

Is that the way it works in dating, love and marriage?

I never knew!

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 6:15 pm

That’s the way it works, period.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 11:44 pm

I have it on very good authority than many highly qualified scientists—a few of whom even post here on WUWT—have seriously considered the claim that atmospheric CO2 concentration is the predominant cause of global warming, and yet simply cannot accept that assertion.

IOW, one can seriously consider a topic without have a predisposition toward acceptance or rejection of the subject matter.

PCman999
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 1:42 am

Well I seriously considered the claim myself considering all the angst it seems to be causing and I had a healthy respect for scientists and I even ‘had a horse in race’ in that I was a nuclear engineer. And I considered it and considered it and of course considered the data and historical records and even the theory – and there is no way that a Climate Emergency or even just plain old Global Warming exists. The weather and climate have been colder and hotter in the past without our help, and even in just the past couple of centuries while CO2 steadily rises, temperatures have been on a roller coaster.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 6:02 pm

Gordon, just how desperate are you to get out from under the rock you have placed yourself under.

The examined the evidence and found it wanting.
That’s quite different from coming to a conclusion prior to examining the evidence.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 24, 2022 7:41 pm

IOW, one can seriously consider a topic without have a predisposition toward acceptance or rejection of the subject matter.

Ron Long
June 22, 2022 3:33 am

Interesting report, but loaded with CAGW nonsense. As a past president of a uranium exploration company I can assure you the current tendency in uranium mining is to produce several by-products, like copper, vanadium, silver, and cobalt, the sale of which makes the mining of uranium cheap.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
June 22, 2022 4:48 am

Fuel represents a fairly trivial part of the total cost of building and operating a nuclear reactor. The LCA/TMR analysis presented here wouldn’t impact the decision to build an actual reactor.

fretslider
June 22, 2022 4:50 am

It’s no good arguing nuclear as a sensible option with the greens/left. It’s radioactive, man….

I read an interesting article which explained to me how the Glastonbury festival this coming weekend – complete with many stages, massive amplification rigs and lighting etc – will save more emissions than it creates.

I nearly choked on my toast. There are two claims:

#By planting thousands of trees since 2000 emissions have been ‘offset’

#If people were not there, they would generate far more emissions at home.

Glastonbury festival ‘saves more carbon emissions than it produces’: ‘Leave no trace’

Glastonbury saves nearly 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, according to analysis

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/glastonbury-festival-environment-carbon-emmissions-b2105742.html

Ironically enough, the outfit producing this report calls itself the Eco-Experts

https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/

https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/blog/glastonbury-carbon-footprint

As a musician who uses power hungry gear and doesn’t care, I find this stuff hilarious. Your average punter might just believe it.

The greens aren’t interested in solutions, only problems.

Last edited 14 days ago by fretslider
Richard Page
Reply to  fretslider
June 22, 2022 8:59 am

Just do a search for Aggreko Glastonbury energy or something similar – it’s hilarious. Aggreko are providing energy systems for Glastonbury – solar and biodiesel generators by the look of it, just so the overpaid muppets attending can be assured of the maximum amount of virtue signalling and handwringing, costs be buggered!

MarkW
Reply to  Richard Page
June 22, 2022 11:21 am

The energy involved in hauling the solar panels from storage, to the event and back to storage, plus the energy involved in setting up and breaking down the panels at the event, no doubtedly consumed more energy then they panels created during the event.

MarkW
Reply to  fretslider
June 22, 2022 11:20 am

#If people were not there, they would generate far more emissions at home.

If they are there, they somehow got there. Unless they walked or biked, then they drove some kind of vehicle, both there and back.
If they walked or biked, their increased aerobic activity means they burned more calories and hence produced more CO2.

JRhoades
June 22, 2022 4:58 am

I’ll call this a step in the right direction.

We need true Total Cost of Ownership, cradle to grave on extant technologies. MINUS the b.s. assumptions about what the waste materials will do. Just catalogue the total needed inputs, and the total outflows.

THEN we can compare apples to apples

Derg
Reply to  JRhoades
June 22, 2022 5:13 am

But remember to include the cost to make unreliables reliable.

Drake
Reply to  Derg
June 22, 2022 5:38 pm

Yep, include in the “renewable” waste the “waste” from nuc, gas, coal plants used to “backup” the unreliables.

Coach Springer
June 22, 2022 5:36 am

Meh.

Lance Flake
June 22, 2022 7:54 am

In an effort to mitigate the environmental degradation and natural resource depletion linked to the usage of fossil fuels,

Uh, hate to break it to you buddy but a resource is only a resource when used. Otherwise it is just part of nature. All resources are depleted by definition when used. Some resources are naturally replenished, but it doesn’t change those definitions.

As to environmental degradation that is a relative issue, not an absolute value statement. All resource use changes the environment. Renewables don’t come from unicorn farts – they involve all kinds of environmental degradation.

Amelia Ava
June 22, 2022 8:38 am

Pretty remarkable to claim to assess environmental impact without even mentioning waste disposal!

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Amelia Ava
June 22, 2022 9:51 am

Seems fair to me; waste disposal is seldom mentioned when talking about “renewable” power generation.

MarkW
Reply to  Amelia Ava
June 22, 2022 11:25 am

Word for word what Nick wrote as the first post after this article.
Are you perhaps nothing more than a sock puppet?

BTW, this stupidity has already been adequately addressed when Nick first spewed it.

Last edited 14 days ago by MarkW
J N
Reply to  MarkW
June 23, 2022 7:06 am

I Have a theory – Nick Stokes, Amelia Ava, griff and Duane are all the same person. Nick Stokes is the main alter-ego that tries to be knowledgable. Griff is the believer and the provocateur. Duane is the one that plays stupid and ignorant and Amelia Ava is the echo…

Amelia Ava
June 22, 2022 8:40 am

Never mind that, King Coal is marching his army up the hill again:
Global spending on coal projects is expected to surge by 10pc this y

Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 8:51 am

From the above article, these statements taken from the Ritsumeikan University publication:

“Conducting a life cycle assessment (LCA) of any energy source is important to understand how it affects the environment.

“In an attempt to provide a more holistic perspective . . . Their study focused on the mining methods, the nuclear reactor types, and the type of uranium fuel cycle system used during nuclear power generation, and how these alter the process’ environmental impact.”

“Along with lower GHG emissions, nuclear power generation also used fewer natural resources, making it an environmentally favorable source of power generation.”

And as revealed in the image accompanying this article, the RU researchers defined their life cycle to be a closed loop with “Disposal/recycling” comprising one of the five major arrows in the closed loop.

ABSENT: any mention of the issue of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) products that cannot be recycled and that are unavoidable, highly radioactive waste from using nuclear fission reactors to generate power.

There are significant environmental impacts associated with handling and storing this waste stream. Moreover, a true LCA—especially one asserted to have a “holistic perspective”—would necessarily include this waste stream and its associated life cycle.

Some of the typical,significant long-lived radioactive waste products of SNF that cannot be recycled are:
— Pu239, with a half life of 24,100 years
— Pu240, with a half life of 6,560 years
— U236, with a half-life of ~2.3×10^7 years

So, a true “holistic” life cycle assessment would easily involve a timeframe in excess 100,000 years in terms of environment effects associated with storage of nuclear reactor waste products.

About 96% of SNF is recyclable (with great effort). For a reference 3000 MWth (~1000 MWe) nuclear reactor over a 12-month fuel cycle, about 25 tonnes of SNF would be accumulated. So, even considering optimum use of recycling, that single reactor produces a net waste stream of at least 1 tonne/year of highly radioactive matter that has to be dealt with, somehow and somewhere.
(ref: https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-power-plant/nuclear-fuel/spent-fuel/ )

Peer-reviewed publication, you say?

David Kamakaris
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 10:43 am

at least 1 tonne/year of highly radioactive matter that has to be dealt with, somehow and somewhere.”

Whatever happened to Yucca Mountain?

MarkW
Reply to  David Kamakaris
June 22, 2022 11:29 am

The highly radioactive stuff is precisely the stuff that should be recycled, not stored.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 3:33 pm

I guess you did not read my post above all that carefully.

The 1 tonne per year per single average-size nuclear reactor of highly radioactive, long-life nuclear waste is that residual 4% that is impossible (with today’s technology) to recycle.

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 6:16 pm

That it is impossible to recycle seems to be your opinion. One not supported by people who actually do the recycling.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 11:47 pm

Got any facts to go with that?

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 6:05 pm

Read the stuff posted by meab.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 24, 2022 8:29 am

You’re kidding, right?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  David Kamakaris
June 22, 2022 3:27 pm

The answer to your question is easy to find (Googling wikipedia with the subject “Yucca Mountain nuclear waste” took me all of 10 seconds, but YMMV.

Some key facts found there:

“The DOE was to begin accepting spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain Repository by January 31, 1998, but did not do so because of a series of delays due to legal challenges, concerns over how to transport nuclear waste to the facility, and political pressure resulting in underfunding of the construction.”

“Lacking an operating repository, the federal government initially paid utility companies somewhere between $300 and $500 million per year in compensation for failing to comply with the contract it signed to take the spent nuclear fuel by 1998. For the ten years after 2015 it is estimated to cost taxpayers $24 billion in payments from the Judgment Fund. The Judgment Fund is not subject to budget rules and allows Congress to ignore the nuclear waste issue since payments therefrom do not have any impact on yearly spending for other programs.”
(my underlining emphasis added)

As of 2001, The DOE estimates that it has over 100 million U.S. gallons of highly radioactive waste and 2,500 metric tons (2,800 short tons) of spent fuel from the production of nuclear weapons and from research activities in temporary storage.”

Separately and for reference in the context of this post, according to https://www.gao.gov/nuclear-waste-disposal , as of Sept 2021, “The nation has over 85,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.”

Yucca Mountain was a complete bust for nuclear waste disposal.

The US Government has yet to find an environmentally-acceptable location for storing nuclear waste for ten to hundreds of thousands of years . . . and the problem is only getting worse as time passes.

Meanwhile, as usual, the US taxpayer keeps paying and paying for this SNAFU.

Richard Page
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 3:22 am

And would you care to tell the audience just how many nuclear waste reprocessing centre’s are available in the USA that they could ship all of that to? Or Canada or South America for that matter?

Zero. None. Zip. Nada. No wonder it’s all piling up.

March 2022 was when Biden did one thing right – he authorised and allocated funds for the very first US nuclear reprocessing plants to be built. Finally the USA can start working its way through the backlog and get rid of that nuclear waste which you say is “only getting worse as time passes.”

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Page
June 23, 2022 4:45 am

As an oddity, it seems as though Bill Gates is building one of the reprocessing plants, also a company founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet is building a Natrium SMR in Wyoming – if successful it could be a prptotype for others. Naturally, Michael Mann has trashed the whole idea as ‘misdirection’ away from the glorious tomorrow that will be brought by renewables! sarc (just the last bit).

Drake
Reply to  David Kamakaris
June 22, 2022 5:42 pm

Harry Reid, that’s what!

bigoilbob
Reply to  Drake
June 23, 2022 8:53 am

He’s dead. Resistance is stronger than ever in Nevada. The DOE has actively been soliciting interest from other parts of our land, for a year and a half now. Crickets.

But lots of rah rah in this thread. Anyone? Anyone?

MarkW
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:28 am

Pu239 and Pu240, to the extent that they are even being produced by most reactors, is such a small amount that only the permanently anal would care.

With a half life of 23,000,000 years is so close to non-radioactive, that only the permanently anal would care.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 22, 2022 3:51 pm

You failed to state your definition of a “small amount”.

As is that “small amount” based on:
— a single, typical power plant reactor?
— all 92 operational nuclear power plant reactors in the US?
— all commercial and military (DoD) nuclear reactors controlled by the US?
— all US-controlled nuclear reactors plus the other ~350 operational nuclear power plant reactors distributed around the globe?
— all commercial and military operational nuclear reactors wherever they be around the globe?

Facts, and numbers, matter.

BTW, as I previously posted, Pu240 has a half life of 6,560 years . . . so I guess you would assert that only the permanently un-anal would care about that. 🙂

meab
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:40 am

Dressler. All isotopes of Pu and U can be (and has been) separated and reused.

I designed and installed automated equipment used to assay the separated Plutonium that was used in the Japanese Plutonium Fuel Production Facility. This Plutonium, both Pu-239 and Pu-240, was separated in the Tokai Reprocessing plant from spent fuel, and was used to manufacture Mixed Oxide Fuel (mixed Uranium and Plutonium) that was burned again (recycled) in the Joyo sodium cooled fast reactor.

I also designed and installed equipment in the Japanese Rokkasho reprocessing plant that will assay the Pu-239 and Pu-240 separated from spent fuel when the plant starts this year.

I know for a fact that you’re lying.

Richard Page
Reply to  meab
June 22, 2022 1:50 pm

Japan, France, Russia, UK and India all have fuel reprocessing centres. I know the first 3 are concentrating on lwr fuel but I’m not sure what the split between reprocessed fuel and MOX is in the output.

MarkW
Reply to  Richard Page
June 22, 2022 2:10 pm

I remember about 2 decades ago, some eco-nut jobs going crazy because Japan was shipping spent waste to France for reprocessing.
When did Japan start doing their own reprocessing?

Richard Page
Reply to  MarkW
June 23, 2022 3:26 am

Rokkasho started full scale commercial reprocessing in 2021.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  meab
June 22, 2022 4:17 pm

meab,

You foolishly posted: “All isotopes of Pu and U can be (and has been) separated and reused.”

From https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-power-plant/nuclear-fuel/spent-fuel/ :

“In summary, the following points are main isotopic changes for fuel at fuel burnup of 40 GWd/tU:
— Approximately 3–4% of the heavy nuclei are fissioned.
— About two thirds of these fissions come directly from uranium 235, and the other third from plutonium, which is produced from uranium 238. The contribution significantly increases as the fuel burnup increases.
— The removed fuel (spent nuclear fuel) still contains about 96% of reusable material. It must be removed due to decreasing k-sub(inf) of an assembly or in other words, it must be removed due to accumulation of fission products with significant absorption cross-section.
— Discharged fuel contains about 0.8% of plutonium and about 1% of uranium 235. It must be noted, there is a significant content (about 0.5%) of uranium 236, which is neither a fissile isotope, nor a fertile isotope.
(my bold emphasis added)

Of course, you would have to understand why it is IMPOSSIBLE to reuse isotopes in SNF that are neither fissile nor fertile, such as U236. Perhaps you’ve just forgotten? But wait, you never mentioned you had any experience with equipment used to assay U236 . . . maybe that’s the problem.

I any event, I strongly suggest you contact the http://www.nuclear-power.com folks and tell them to correct their website based on your knowledge.

As for the rest of your post to me, including your last sentence, there is no need for me to comment further.

meab
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 5:29 pm

Glad that you admitted that you lied about Pu-239 and Pu-240.

God, you’re an idiot. What makes you an idiot is that you pontificate about things you know nothing about.

When U-235 absorbs a slow neutron it becomes U-236. U-236 is unstable and undergoes fission 82 percent of the time – that’s what makes U-235 fissile. The remaining 18% of the time the U-236 emits a gamma and doesn’t fission.

U-236 doesn’t have much of a slow neutron cross section so it builds up in thermal reactor spent fuel (like spent fuel from a PWR or BWR).

If reprocessed, the U-236 gets chemically separated with the rest of the remaining Uranium (all isotopes of the same element act the same chemically) where it can get put into MOX fuel and burned again. If you use the MOX fuel in a fast reactor, like a sodium cooled reactor, the U-236 gets bombarded with fast neutrons and converted to Neptunium-237 (also a long-lived non-fertile isotope) which can be chemically separated from Uranium. Reprocessing plants, like Rokkasho, separate the Neptunium and glassify it along with the other unusable fission products. In that way, the Uranium can be recycled again but the Neptunium (from U-236) is immobilized and, when buried in a deep high-level waste repository with non-oxidizing groundwater, cannot reenter the environment.

We’re talking about a very small quantity so treating it safely is quite affordable.

Don’t think you can lecture me, Gordon, I’m one of a very few Americans who have actually designed parts of a existing reprocessing plant, a plant that has been constructed and tested. I was also paid to analyze what happens to the Np-237(also in LWR spent fuel – not just fast reactor spent fuel) in Yucca Mountain. Hint, their plan was an extremely bad one as Np can leach out of oxide spent fuel and it dissolves readily in Yucca Mountain’s oxidizing groundwater. It would have contaminated Amargosa valley’s groundwater in the distant future

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  meab
June 22, 2022 11:09 pm

meab, you posted:

“Glad that you admitted that you lied about Pu-239 and Pu-240.

God, you’re an idiot. What makes you an idiot is that you pontificate about things you know nothing about.”

First, thank you for your ad hominem comments that allow all WUWT readers to see the insightful wisdom of Socrates, who said:
“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

Next, you stated this non-sequitur:
“U-236 is unstable and undergoes fission 82 percent of the time – that’s what makes U-235 fissile.” Come again?

Here is the very first sentence from Wikipedia on U-236 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-236 ):
“Uranium-236 (super-236 U) is an isotope of uranium that is neither fissile with thermal neutrons, nor very good fertile material, but is generally considered a nuisance and long-lived radioactive waste.” 
That is in agreement with the statements from the https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-power-plant/nuclear-fuel/spent-fuel/ link that I previously provided to you.

So, in any event, you need to contact the http://www.nuclear-power.com folks—and now the folks at Wikipedia—and tell them to correct their websites based on your knowledge.

It’s them you need to lecture, not me.

Richard Page
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 3:30 am

Not sure if it is an ad hom attack to call someone an idiot based on a post riddled with basic mistakes, stupid errors and idiotic assumptions. More like stating the obvious, frankly.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Richard Page
June 23, 2022 8:55 am

Richard Page,

And I thank you too for your ad hominem contribution, even if thinly disguised.

Please cite your supporting specifics as to:
“basic mistakes”
“stupid errors”
“idiotic assumptions”

meab
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 8:36 am

Gordon, I didn’t come back at you with just an ad hominem attack, I schooled you on physics and facts that are a prerequisite to having a BASIC understanding of the issue. I corrected your outright lie first. The ad hominem came after you responded with total gibberish. You’re apparently too stupid to even understand that.

When U-235 captures a neutron it becomes U-236, the element stays the same but the isotope goes up by one. That new isotope is created with a huge amount of excess energy that it has to shed – it does so by either fissioning or emitting a gamma in an extremely short time. That’s how U-235 fission works, it’s actually EXCITED U-236 that is fissioning but since the U-236 atom lives for such a short time (nanoseconds) it is left out of the reaction equation. But we know that the EXCITED U-236 exists because we can calculate how often it will decay by gamma emission vs. fission.

This is BASIC nuclear physics which you don’t understand as you’re nothing more than a Wikipedia “expert” who doesn’t even understand enough to know what he’s reading.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  meab
June 23, 2022 10:13 am

.

MarkW
Reply to  meab
June 23, 2022 6:08 pm

Gordon is a lot like Nick, his ego is too big to let him give up just because he’s been proven wrong.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  MarkW
June 24, 2022 8:33 am

MarkW,

You too? . . . I once thought better of you.

Oh, well:
Thank you for your ad hominem comments that allow all WUWT readers to see the insightful wisdom of Socrates, who said:
“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

Barbara Hamrick
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 11:54 am

The half-life of the hazardous chemicals in solar panels is infinity. Just sayin’.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 12:11 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the worldwide accumulation of nuclear waste equivalent to the area the size of a football field and about 18-20 feet deep? And with the new reactor technology, some of that so-called waste can be reprocessed or reclaimed?

If the above is remotely correct, I don’t see a big problem with nuclear plant waste.

Last edited 14 days ago by Aaron Hoffman
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Aaron Hoffman
June 22, 2022 4:36 pm

In partial answer to the question:

Posted by me in a comment above at June 22, 2022 3:27 pm:
“As of 2001, ‘The DOE estimates that it has over 100 million U.S. gallons of highly radioactive waste and 2,500 metric tons (2,800 short tons) of spent fuel from the production of nuclear weapons and from research activities in temporary storage.’
“Separately and for reference in the context of this post, according to https://www.gao.gov/nuclear-waste-disposal , as of Sept 2021, ‘The nation has over 85,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.’ ”

So, one would have to update the waste figures for production of nuclear weapons and research activities since 2001, and then add in the latest GAO figure for commercial nuclear waste.

After doing that, you tell me if well over 100 million US gallons and well over 87,500 metric tons of solid radioactive waste would fit in your referenced volume of a football field bottom area with 18-20 foot depth.

Oh, by the way, after you’ve done that limit-case calculation, you’ll probably want to revise it to address the unmentioned concern over packing that much radioactive waste together so compactly . . . it is very wise to distance nuclear waste containers from each other, both for individual container cooling purposes and to avoid fission waste heat enhancement from sub-critical radiation interactions.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 12:09 pm

Followup: the size of the playable area of a US football field is 48,000 ft^2 (300 ft x 160 ft).

If we just took the 2001 DoE estimate of “over 100 million US gallons of highly radioactive waste” noted in my post immediately above, that equates to over 13.3 million cubic feet of volume.

With a the base area of 48,000 ft^2, the solid rectangle enclosing 13.3 million+ cubic feet would be more than 278 feet high.

That’s quite a bit above the asserted height of 18-20 feet.

And that’s only considering the liquid waste . . . the height would be considerably more if the solid mass estimates for nuclear waste provided by DoE and GAO are thrown in (pardon the pun).

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 22, 2022 5:57 pm

Gordon D,
Quoting half lives is mostly deflection. What matters is dose received by people. Paracelsus centuries ago noted the poison is in the dose, everything is toxic above some point.
There has been an enormous amount of research done on management of spent fuel rods from reactors. Efficiency, costs, dangers, safety history are well known. In summary, harm to people is low because it is hard for them to get a dose of radiation above that of normal surroundings and matters like medical x-rays.
I have spent many years with nuclear technology, both hands on and in literature. If I observed a significant threat, I would accept it and do what I could to minimise it. Cut to the chase, there is no significant threat to mankind from the peaceful use of nuclear reactors. Spent fuel rods that are not reprocessed simply need isolation from people, as by storing them in the middle of a large desert with no roads. It really is almost that simple. After 100 to 1000 years depending on particular history, these wastes decay to less radioactivity than the ores from which they were mined, in very high safety.
Please be sceptical of heaps of antinuclear propaganda. Geoff S

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 22, 2022 11:26 pm

Was it only half-lives I quoted?

How about, most recently above in response to Aaron Hoffman and more than one hour before your post:
“As of 2001, ‘The DOE estimates that it has over 100 million U.S. gallons of highly radioactive waste and 2,500 metric tons (2,800 short tons) of spent fuel from the production of nuclear weapons and from research activities in temporary storage.’
“Separately and for reference in the context of this post, according to https://www.gao.gov/nuclear-waste-disposal , as of Sept 2021, ‘The nation has over 85,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.’ ”?

I have no reason to believe the DOE and GAO would be spreading antinuclear propaganda, but please correct me if I’m wrong about this.

Richard Page
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 3:39 am

Please read my (more recent) post above on the availability of nuclear reprocessing in the USA. There has been no possibility of reprocessing any of this waste in North or South America and no possibility of shipping it to other countries for reprocessing, thanks to enviromental activism. Happily this situation should be rectified when the very first US reprocessing plants come online (8-10 years or so?) which will enable the DOE to get rid of that stockpile of (useful) nuclear waste which you are obviously extremely concerned about (you mentioned it in 3 separate posts).

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Richard Page
June 23, 2022 9:03 am

Yes, please reread my posts wherein I clearly state (and give links to others that also state) that it is impossible, with current physics/engineering knowledge and current technology, to reprocess/recycle all existing radioactive nuclear waste products, in particular those that are non-fissile and non-fertile.

DavidC
June 22, 2022 3:26 pm

What’s the environmental impact comparison between nuclear waste disposal and 1000 lbs of waste lithium battery? Assuming there really is a point in time of 20% of all vehicle being EV, how does the final waste products of the vehicles compare with the waste from using nuclear power to generate the electricity to charge them?

Dena
June 22, 2022 4:52 pm

Completely overlooked is the Fast-neutron_reactor . It’s capable of burning fuel that has already been run through a regular reactor and can extract as much as 60% of the energy out of the fuel. Waste products are minimal but it does require a fuel reprocessing cycle. The other problem is that it’s a breeder reactor, something that the U.S. for political reasons isn’t used except for research or weapon development.
By switching to these, we could discontinue mining fuel and run the country off our waste pile. It’s much closer than thorium as we have already run them so the fuel cycle is proven.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Dena
June 22, 2022 10:31 pm

Not “completely overlooked” . . . studied extensively, dating back to the 1950’s, and even demonstrated in full scale power plants such as a 1,242 MWe FNR in France (closed in 1997). The results of which were: not a breakthrough technology, and having its own set of problems.

The Wiki link that you provided clearly states the facts:
— FNR’s “. . . have been intensely studied since the 1950s”
“Each commercial scale reactor would have an annual waste output of a little more than a ton of fission products, plus trace amounts of transuranics if the most highly radioactive components could be recycled. The remaining waste should be stored for about 500 years.”
“Water, the most common coolant in thermal reactors, is generally not feasible for a fast reactor, because it acts as a neutron moderator . . . All operating fast reactors are liquid metal cooled reactors.”
“Around 25 reactors have been built since the 1970’s, accumulating over 400 reactor years of experience.”
(my underlining emphasis added above)

The same linked Wiki article goes on to provide a list of the nine major disadvantages of FNR’s compared to today’s common thermal neutron pressurized water reactors.

It also lists the six (6) FNRs that are currently active in the world, but only two of these are producing power at commercial levels, the other four being research/experimental reactors.

Geoff Sherrington
June 22, 2022 6:09 pm

The article is not available to folk like me yet, so I rely on the summary presented.
Ever since I started into nuclear research and reporting in 1970, I have benefited from numerous high quality research papers. The scientific standard in nuclear matters has been way higher than most topics.
This Japanese study seems to be just another one of similar content to hundreds of previous, even thousands of others.. I would appreciate advice about any novel content.
Nuclear matters have attracted a large number of camp followers who are almost always too poorly qualified to be taken seriously. Some are great inventors, but sadly they invent variations of the truth as we know it.
Geoff S

Ty ty
June 22, 2022 11:49 pm

 300 grams of uranium has enough power consumption for one person for 80 years…. its $60 per kg. $18 per person, per 80 years. Do the math. Population of 7,000,000,000 x 0.3 kg = 2,100,000,000 kg x $60 = $126 billion every 80 years, or $1.575 billion every year, for 7 billion people total. Nuclear also happens to be the safest energy on the planet, next to thorium.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Ty ty
June 23, 2022 10:45 am

So now, along with at least 1000 mg Vitamin C, each of us should take one 10 mg tablet of uranium* a day.

Got it.

*Recommended daily value based on U-235, not U-236 or U-238.

R_G
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 23, 2022 4:31 pm

You comments are really dumb.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  R_G
June 24, 2022 12:04 pm

Slow to recognize sarcastic humor, are you?

Last edited 12 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Gordon A. Dressler
June 24, 2022 8:25 am

Not being one to leave perplexing issues unresolved if I can help it, I was finally able to run down the apparent source of meab’s confusion regarding his claim that the formation of U-236 was a critical part of process of the nuclear fission reaction of U-235 that is the basis of producing nuclear power plant energy.

meab’s confusion apparently results from him not fully understanding the specific nomenclature used by physicists to write out detailed nuclear reactions, perhaps coupled with a misunderstand of the fundamental nuclear reaction sequence involved.

The key to understanding this situation is given in the attached figure, taken from https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-power-plant/nuclear-fuel/uranium/uranium-235/uranium-235-fission/ , which gives the specific nomenclature used to describe the nuclear reactor process that starts with enriched U-235 absorbing a thermal neutron. “Enriched” U-235 is normally-mined U-235 that has been concentrated in order to produce a greater number of natural decay neutrons per unit volume of material, which in turn allows for a U-235-fueled reactor to achieve criticality for an overall self-sustaining nuclear reaction.

Since I cannot use superscripts and subscripts in submitting this post, I default to using the text “sup286/sub92 U” to refer to U-236 in its normal elemental form, where 286 gives the atomic mass and 92 gives the number of protons per standard nuclear reaction nomenclature for individual atoms. You can see the nomenclature as actually used by physicists for both U-235 and U-236 in the attached figure.

Where meab runs off the rails is in not recognizing the significance of using the square brackets, [ ], to enclose sup286/sub92 U in the intermediate product of both the top equation (the nuclear reaction sequence expected to happen 85% of the time), and the bottom equation (the nuclear reaction sequence expected to happen the remaining 15% of the time).

The square brackets mean that this is a short-lived unstable atomic state that is referenced to the nuclear mass and atomic number equivalent to the element of that configuration but that it is not to represent the normal atom enclosed within the brackets.

In the case of U-235 absorbing a neutron (the first step noted in both reactions), the specific state identified by the brackets is known as a “compound nucleus”.

Here is what https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reaction states about this:
“Either a low-energy projectile is absorbed or a higher energy particle transfers energy to the nucleus, leaving it with too much energy to be fully bound together. On a time scale of about 10^−19 seconds, particles, usually neutrons, are “boiled” off. That is, it remains together until enough energy happens to be concentrated in one neutron to escape the mutual attraction. The excited quasi-bound nucleus is called a compound nucleus.”

In the case of the upper cited equation, the neutron “boiloff” (actually release of 3 neutrons) is coincidental with the fissioning of the compound nucleus. In the case of the lower cited equation, the particle “boiled off” is not a neutron but a gamma ray, which allows the compound nucleus to become a normal U-236 nucleus.

Also, note that the timeframe for the compound nucleus to exist is 10^-19 seconds, 10 orders of magnitude shorter than the “nanoseconds” time period stated by meab.

The fact that square bracketed sup286/sub92 U is considered to be completely different from normal (i.e., unbracketed) elemental sup286/sub92 U is seen in the second of the referenced equations.

Misunderstanding of this nuclear reaction nomenclature distinction also explains how meab could assert, as he did, that “it’s actually EXCITED U-236 that is fissioning but since the U-236 atom lives for such a short time (nanoseconds) it is left out of the reaction equation” when it is commonly known amongst nuclear physicists that the U-236 atom has a half-life of ~2.3×10^7 years, as I previously noted.

As has been often said, the devil is in the details.

U235_Nuclear_Reactions.jpg
Last edited 12 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 24, 2022 10:20 am

Oops, my typos in the fourth, fifth and the third-to-last paragraphs of my above post. Those paragraph should read, respectively:

“Since I cannot use superscripts and subscripts in submitting this post, I default to using the text “sup236/sub92 U” to refer to U-236 in its normal elemental form, where 236 gives the atomic mass and 92 gives the number of protons . . .”

“Where meab runs off the rails is in not recognizing the significance of using the square brackets, [ ], to enclose sup236/sub92 U in the intermediate product of both . . .

“The fact that square bracketed sup236/sub92 U is considered to be completely different from normal (i.e., unbracketed) elemental sup236/sub92 U is seen in the second of the referenced equations.”

(above corrections noted in bold)

Mea culpa.

Last edited 12 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
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