Project: ReNUclear

"Nuclear Decommissioning via Molten Salt Pyrolysis"

Despite it's exceptional reliability, energy density, and small carbon footprint, the outlook for Nuclear technology in the USA and Europe appears to be increasingly bleak.

The dramatic rise of Fracking for fossil fuels as well as the slow but accelerating deployment of distributed solar and wind power has meant that the US is now shutting down old nuclear plants, while we haven't deployed a new one in decades.

So what to do with a large amount of dangerous, but incredibly valuable and still usable spent nuclear fuel? Recycle it, of course! Researchers from around the world have been developing and proposing recycling technology for decades, and we believe that Recycling should be an integral part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Process.

Today in the US, there are 3 official methods of decommissioning a nuclear plant:

    • Most common strategy in US history (tends to be lowest upfront cost, but with long-term liability)
    • Active cooling and monitoring for 60+ years until most active components are stable (into the Bismuth/Lead region)
    • Final On-site packaging of long-term products and disposal as required
  • DECOM:
    • Fastest method to terminate liability and license (5-10 year plan)
    • Immediate dismantling of reactor and packaging of all fuel (including highly active fuel)
    • Shipment of fuel to Independent Facility (ISFSI), who is paid upfront to accept future responsibility of fuel management.
    • No ISFSI companies exist in the US (see also Yucca Mountain), and government has repeatedly reneged on promises to set up regional solutions
    • Considered "Emergency" option, has never been executed in the US.
    • Immediate shutdown and packaging of material On-Site
    • Encasing entire fuel supply in cement and other radio-shielding material (lead plates)
    • Constant monitoring until fuel has decayed to below background radiation levels, however long that takes.

We propose a fourth option, which should be at least as fast as DECOM, but without long-term cost of storing or movinghighly active Actinide fuels:

  • ReNU:
    • Dismantle existing Light-Water reactor and replace with Molten Salt Breeder Reactor
    • Reclaim UNUSED Uranium/Plutonium fuels using Pyrolysis
    • Remove Low-energy products for long-term storage
    • Feed High-energy products (actinides) into breeder reactor to reduce lifetime from 100 years to 1 year
    • Final on-site packaging of long-term products