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China is to reprocess used reactor fuel at a plant supplied by Areva, according to a letter of intent signed in Beijing yesterday.

The agreement sets out the technical specifications of the future plant, the project's organisation and the scope of work for the partners, Areva and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). Areva said it was a milestone that represented a signature on part of acontract for sale. Heads of those companies Luc Oursel and Sun Qin put pen to paper in the presence of French and Chinese Presidents Francois Hollande and Xi Jinping on 25 April during an official visit.

China has planned to reprocess its used reactor fuel since the start of its nuclear power program in the late 1980s. At the moment fuel is building up at the sites of the 17 power reactors in operation and at a centralised store at its fuel cycle centre near Lanzhou in central Gansu province. Expansion in coming years would be timely as the country brings several new reactors on-line each year. By 2020 about 1000 tonnes of used reactor fuel will have amassed and over 40 reactors could be in operation and adding to the total.

The reprocessing plant will have the capacity to handle 800 tonnes of this per year, said Areva. When in operation it would break down the fuel into three main streams: recyclable fuels like uranium and plutonium, highly radioactive waste elements and the remains of contaminated metal cladding. Fuel materials can then be incorporated into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel or fast neutron reactor fuel and used several times over for power generation, while the wastes will be in a compact form ready for underground disposal. China expects to set up a disposal facility at one of three candidate sites, all also in Gansu province.

Areva operates reprocessing facilities with a total capacity of 1700 tonne per year at La Hague in France, and also supplied the bulk of the scope of a 800 tonne per year plant for Japan Nuclear Fuels Ltd at Rokkasho.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News
Reprinted here with permission

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:06:58 AM PDT

  •  Along these lines, from France: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    onanthebarbarian
    In addition to generating approximately 80% of their electricity with nuclear energy, there is another aspect to nuclear technology that the French do like no one else: spent nuclear fuel reprocessing. Instead of just pulling spent nuclear fuel out of reactors and storing like we do in the U.S., the French recycle that material and reuse it in the form of Mixed Oxide Fuel and Enriched Uranium Fuel. Reprocessing reduces the amount of waste by a factor of 5 and reduces toxicity by a factor of 10.
    Full:
    Diary of a Nuclear Tourist blog, Day 72: The Grand Finale- AREVA’s La Hague Nuclear Reprocessing Facility: http://nuclearliteracy.org/...

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:08:42 AM PDT

  •  Have you watched (0+ / 0-)
    Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare
    http://www.arte.tv/...

    http://sales.arte.tv/...

    2010 : Prize for the Best Investigation & Current Affairs Documentary at the BANFF World Television Festival (Canada); Greenpeace Switzerland Prize at the Festival Du Film Vert 2010 (Switzerland); Silver Hérisson at the 24th Nature & Environnement International Film Festival (Grenoble - France)
    If you have already watched it , what are your thoughts ?

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

    by indycam on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:22:12 AM PDT

    •  Since you recommended it, when I have time (0+ / 0-)

      later today, I'll watch it.

      David

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indy, the English lang. one wouldn't load. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      onanthebarbarian

      if there another link I could watch it at that would be great.

      I think one of hte problems with the anti-nuclear movement (not having seen the videos yet :) is that instead of focusing on what could happen, they focus on something so likely not to happen in the fission process as to defeat their argument.

      What do I mean? The existence of nuclear waste, even the little amount in the US (77k tons) really isn't "danger" from the point of view of something happening to it. it just sits there.

      When I was an active anti-nuclear person, there was a women from the anti-Diablo Power Plant group that came to speak to us in SF and she said the same thing. The issue is the pressurized water reactor, not the waste. The waste is an issue that has to be dealt with but isn't an 'active' one in terms of a meltdown, "China Syndrome" etc. She argued that we had to focus on the immediate issue of the plant melting down, not the waste.

      To wit: while I've obviously reversed my view of nuclear in the last 10 years, I understand where she is coming from and why the focus on waste represents something of a logical fallacy. Just my quite prejudiced view on this.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:38:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did you change the diary ? (0+ / 0-)

    I could have sworn I read a different diary at first ?

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

    by indycam on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:26:09 AM PDT

    •  Hi Indy...yep. I accidently posted the wrong one. (0+ / 0-)

      The other one was a general, but boring, article on "French-Chinese Co-operation in Nuclear". I quickly corrected it.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:28:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be careful with that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        doing a diary change is frowned upon .
        I'm not saying you did wrong ,
        but there was a mention in the faqs re doing diary changes , iirc .

        I think the preferable way is to delete
        and the publish a new diary .

        Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11

        by indycam on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:36:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh... didn't know that. Understood. I was trying (0+ / 0-)

          to actually find the delete button but failed, so I changed it. It was only 5 minutes from publish to change. Thanks for the warning!

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:39:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not a "warning" , a heads up if you will . (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not in a position to give warnings .

            Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

            by indycam on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:53:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I think China is the place to watch (0+ / 0-)

    if one wants to divine the future of nuclear energy.  They have a huge, growing, and insatiable demand for energy and are running into resource limits, especially in terms of clean air.  China is choking on coal emissions.  So, they have every reason in the world - squared - to make a solid go at nuclear energy.  

    The US, on the other hand, seems to be doing everything it can to knee-cap, choke and slow-down any real progress in the nuclear power sector - and has been doing so since Carter.  To wit, US regulations that demand that plants and waste repository emissions must be engineered, and guaranteed under force of law, to not expose anyone to radiation levels beyond amounts 10x's SMALLER THAN WHAT WE GET FROM NATURAL SOURCES.  This is patently ludicrous and I don't know what other industry has to meet those standards.  

    Such requirements cannot be for reasons of health protection because people are exposed to radiation levels 10-100 times more than these regulated levels naturally (depending on where you live) and study after study has been unable to show any increased risk of pathology.   These regulations do nothing for public heath protection, but do everything to increase cost of nuclear energy and slant the political landscape against it.  

    Using occam's razor, I would say these regulations are so tight, even though for no benefit to public health, because the people who wrote those regulations wanted it that way.  

    Why? I don't know, but one thing is clear: American political & economic elites have not wanted nuclear energy to thrive.  Not now, not for any time over the past 30-40 years.  

    I am willing to make a prediction.  Once China starts delivering huge amounts of cheap, clean energy to its economy using mass-produced next generation nuclear technologies, call it a new nuclear prosperity, only then will the vested interests in the USA, those whose vast fortunes flowed from Big Oil / Gas, relinquish their choke-hold on nuclear innovation and growth.  It will take that kind of a threat to national security, of being economically eclipsed by China, to overcome their power to prevent the ship of state from turning away from Big Oil.  

    Such is the importance of plentiful, cheap energy to national economies.

    The USA will be forced to play catch-up.  I just hope we wake up and smell the coffee and leave fossil fuels sooner rather than later and make full use of the millions-to-one advantage of nuclear fuels over burning fossil carbon.

    The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

    by mojo workin on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:28:18 PM PDT

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