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Used Fuel Projections and Considerations. John Kessler Manager, Used Fuel and HLW Management Program, Nuclear Infrastructure Council Sustainable Fuel Cycle Meeting 9 June 2010. Outline. Why we got to where we are Utility issues related to wet and dry storage

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Used Fuel Projections and Considerations

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Used Fuel Projections and Considerations

John KesslerManager, Used Fuel and HLW Management Program,

Nuclear Infrastructure Council Sustainable Fuel Cycle Meeting9 June 2010


  • Why we got to where we are

  • Utility issues related to wet and dry storage

  • Commercial used fuel inventories: present and future projections

  • Extended storage R&D

Back-end of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Original Plan (before ~ 1976)


Nuclear Power Plant

Geologic Repository

Reprocessing Plant

Vitrified Waste

Key Developments in the 70’s in the U.S.

  • Sharp increase in reprocessing costs

  • India’s nuclear bomb test

  • US decision to forego reprocessing and Pu recycle

Result: a “once-through” fuel cycle

The Once-through Fuel Cycle

Offsite Storage

Dry InterimStorage

10 CFR 71

Used Fuel


10 CFR 72

10 CFR 60/63

10 CFR 50

Utility Licensees



Geologic Medium

Wet Storage

Current Situation

  • No disposal

  • No reprocessing

  • No fast reactors

  • Spent fuel pools are filling up

  • No centralized interim storage

  • Transportation not available for all used fuel types

  • Therefore, nowhere for fuel to go

Industry Reaction to the Need for Prolonged On-Site Storage

  • Add more storage cells in the spent fuel pools (“reracking”)

  • Move used fuel from pools into dry storage

  • Extract more energy per assembly (higher “burnups”)

  • Attempt to build a centralized interim storage site

  • Work on regulatory permission to transport high burnup used fuel

  • Extend the life of existing dry storage systems

  • After January 31, 1998: damages lawsuits against DOE for failure to start picking up used fuel

    • Money coming from DOJ Judgment Fund

Centralized Interim Storage Example (Private Fuel Storage Facility, Goshute Indian Reservation, State of Utah)

  • Developed by a utility consortium, 40,000 MTU capacity

  • 2005: NRC approval for construction, 40-year life

  • Artist’s conception of site below:

    A: rail line (52 km)B: cask transfer building

    C: concrete padsD: concrete cask production

Used Fuel Wet and Dry Storage Technology is Mature (Used Fuel Pool with Dry Storage Cask:Surry - Final TN-32 Loading)

On-Site Spent Fuel Dry Storage Systems

Dry Storage Casks at Connecticut Yankee

Surry ISFSI - Pad 1

Surry ISFSI - Pad 2

Surry ISFSI - Pad 3

Transportation Systems

Industry Trend from “Storage-Only” to “Dual Purpose Canisters”

Dual Purpose: storage and transportation (requires two separate licenses)

Multi-Purpose: storage, transportation, disposal (requires three licenses – none exist yet)

Historical and Projected Used Fuel “Burnup” (megawatt-days per metric ton of uranium, MWD/MTU)

“high” burnup

No transportation licenses

Burnup range from the 60s to the 80s

Inventory of Used Nuclear Fuel is Measured Several Different Ways

  • Number of assemblies

    • More in a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) than a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)

  • Metric tons of uranium (MTU)

    • Similar MTUs in both BWRs and PWRs

  • Number of dry storage casks

    • Move to larger capacity casks (cheaper per assembly)

      • Dry storage: 7 (1980s) to >60 assemblies per cask today

    • Still transportable by rail

Used Commercial Fuel Inventories (as of 12/31/09)

  • National totals:

    • Wet storage: 169,696 assemblies at >50 reactor sites

    • Dry storage: 1,232 casks, 51,585 assemblies in 32 states

  • Top six states (casks/assemblies in dry storage)

    • Illinois

    • Pennsylvania

    • South Carolina

    • Virginia

    • Georgia

    • California

Data courtesy of ACI Nuclear Energy Solutions

By 2055: >485,000 assemblies (per ACI Nuclear Energy Solutions)

ISFSI: Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation

Potential Additional Used Fuel in a “Renaissance”

Current Yucca Mountain legal limit (63,000 MTU)

Yucca Mountain Technical Capacity is Much Higher Than the Legal Limit

EPRI’s projected technical capacity range

(~260,000-570,000 MTU, 4 to 9 times current legal limit)

Current legal limit (63,000 MTU)

Newest Storage Project: Extended Storage

  • “Extended”: >>60 years

  • Initial dry storage license periods: 20 years

    • Was supposed to be long enough

  • Existing EPRI work leads to licenses extended to 60 years

  • But:

    • Cancellation of Yucca Mountain?

      • New disposal program could take decades

    • New plants’ contracts with DOE: start taking spent fuel 20 years after plant shutdown

      • means 80 to 100+ years

  • Extended storage is not just a US problem

Functions of a Dry Cask Storage System that Must be Maintained

  • NUREG-1536 (NRC, 1997) identifies the functions important to safety that the dry cask systems must maintain:

    • thermal performance

    • radiological protection

    • confinement

    • sub-criticality

    • retrievability

  • Can the existing and future dry cask systems maintain these functions for decades to come?

Temperature-related Dry Storage System Degradation Mechanisms

  • Fuel cladding creep caused by increased cladding ductility and increased stress

    • Due to higher temperatures causing higher pressures inside the cladding

  • Hydride reorientation in the spent fuel cladding

  • Corrosion

  • Degradation of neutron shielding

  • Concrete dry-out and cracking

Changes as the System gets Older and Cooler

  • Mostly good things

    • Reduced metal creep rates

    • Reduced corrosion rates

    • Reduced gamma and neutron radiation

  • Potential negatives (mostly related to cladding)

    • Additional hydride precipitation

    • Decreased cladding ductility

      • Potentially more susceptible to breakage during storage and transportation

Aging Management Options

  • “Initial” activities

    • Additional analyses of degradation mechanisms for longer periods

    • Enhanced monitoring and inspection

  • “Eventually” (more costly, higher worker dose)

    • Canning

    • Repackaging

    • Over-packaging

  • When is “eventually”?

EPRI Initiated a Joint Effort in a November 2009 Workshop

  • Attendees:

    • EPRI


    • DOE: NE, EM, RW

    • Utilities

    • Storage system vendors

    • NEI

    • NWTRB

  • Title: Extended Storage Collaboration Program

    • EPRI will be lead organization

    • US and international participation

Purpose of the Program

  • Evaluate what we already know

    • Existing analyses: how far out in time?

    • Existing data

    • Existing operational issues (e.g., loading, monitoring, testing)

  • Identify the open items for even longer storage (gap analysis)

  • Suggestions for what needs to be done (and how, if possible)

  • Form a standing group to continue pursuing additional, appropriate R&D

Conclusion: Industry Will do What is Necessary to Keep Plants Running

  • Continue cranking out dry storage systems as a stop-gap measure

    • Industry has not (yet) been successful completing a centralized storage facility

    • Will get harder and harder to continue adding to the on-site storage inventory

      • Space, dose, public concern limitations

      • Shutdown plants: all that is left is the fuel

  • Ensure wet and dry storage systems maintain their safety functions

  • Without an active disposal program, it becomes more difficult to address the “what about the waste?” concern

Together…Shaping the Future of Electricity

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