Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another Spent Nuclear Fuel Burning Reactor: GE's PRISM

Besides the traveling-wave reactor, another nuclear reactor especially designed for burning spent nuclear fuel is the GE Hitachi PRISM reactor.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, one of the world's biggest providers of nuclear reactors, says it has an alternative to burying nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the proposed waste repository that the Obama administration has said is now "off the table." Based in Wilmington, NC, GE Hitachi wants to use nuclear waste as a fuel for advanced nuclear power plants, significantly reducing the volume of waste and the length of time that most of the waste needs to be stored.

National labs in the United States and GE have been developing the technology over the course of a few decades, but in recent years the company "put it on the shelf" because of a lack of U.S. interest in reusing nuclear waste, says Eric Loewen, chief consulting engineer for advanced plants at GE Hitachi. The technology involves separating nuclear waste into different types of useable fuel, some of which can power conventional nuclear power plants, and some of which require advanced "fast neutron" reactors, which are being used in power plants elsewhere but not in the United States. _TechnologyReview

More information:

PRISM PDF Advanced Fuel Cycle Technologies PDF

For an excellent tutorial on the state of electrical power generation, and why nuclear power is necessary, see Coal2Nuclear.

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