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Used Fuel Projections and Considerations. John Kessler Manager, Used Fuel and HLW Management Program, [email protected] 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

Used Fuel Projections and Considerations

John KesslerManager, Used Fuel and HLW Management Program, [email protected]

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
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
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
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
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
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 pads D: concrete cask production

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

Industry trend from storage only to dual purpose canisters
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
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
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
Used Commercial Fuel Inventories Ways(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 Ways(per ACI Nuclear Energy Solutions)

Potential additional used fuel in a renaissance
Potential Additional Used Fuel in a “Renaissance” Ways

Current Yucca Mountain legal limit (63,000 MTU)

Yucca mountain technical capacity is much higher than the legal limit
Yucca Mountain WaysTechnical 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
Newest Storage Project: Extended Storage Ways

  • “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
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
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
Changes as the System gets Older and Cooler Mechanisms

  • 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
Aging Management Options Mechanisms

  • “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
EPRI Initiated a Joint Effort in a November 2009 Workshop Mechanisms

  • 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
Purpose of the Program Mechanisms

  • 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
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