Tuesday, 4 January 2011

"Scientific breakthrough may solve uranium supply problem at nuclear plants"

More in the series of "what China's doing right", aka "why China is on our side, as a nation that constructs, rather than destructs"....
Copying all here, since it's by subscription only.  Thanks to SCMP, Jan 3:
[and I know, this is called "scraping", but hopefully not the bottom of the barrel, and also, I ain't the only one, as many blogs are nothing but "scrapes"...]

Scientific breakthrough may solve uranium supply problem at nuclear plants

Scientists have made a breakthrough in spent fuel reprocessing technology that could potentially solve the mainland's uranium supply problem.
The technology, developed and tested at the No 404 Factory of the China National Nuclear Corp in the Gobi desert in remote Gansu province, enables the re-use of irradiated fuel. It is able to boost the usage rate of uranium materials at nuclear plants by 60 times.
"With the new technology, China's existing detected uranium resources can be used for 3,000 years," Central Television reported.
China, as well as France, Britain and Russia, actively supports reprocessing to manage highly radioactive spent fuel and as a source of fissile material for future nuclear fuel supply. But independent scientists argued that commercial application of nuclear fuel reprocessing has always been hindered by cost, technology, proliferation risk and safety challenges.
The mainland has 171,400 tonnes of proven uranium resources spread mainly across eight provinces - Jiangxi , Guangdong, Hunan , Xinjiang , Shaanxi , Inner Mongolia , Liaoning and Yunnan . It is planning a push into nuclear power in an effort to wean itself off coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.
It now has 12 working reactors with 10.15 gigawatts of total generating capacity. It has set an official target of 40 gigawatts (GW) of installed nuclear generating capacity by 2020.
But the government indicated it could double the goal to about 80 GW as faster expansion was a way of achieving emissions reduction goals.
China would need to source more than 60 per cent of the uranium needed for its nuclear power plants from overseas by 2020, even if the country moved forward with a modest nuclear expansion plan, researchers said