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Transmutation and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

  • James Bresee (a1)

Abstract

In the January 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush announced a new Advanced Energy Initiative, a significant part of which is the Global Nuclear Energy Initiative. Its details were described on February 6, 2006 by the U.S. Secretary of Energy. In summary, it has three parts: (1) a program to expand nuclear energy use domestically and in foreign countries to support economic growth while reducing the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. (2) an expansion of the U.S. nuclear infrastructure that will lead to the recycling of spent fuel and a closed fuel cycle and, through transmutation, a reduction in the quantity and radiotoxicity of nuclear waste and its proliferation concerns, and (3) a partnership with other fuel cycle nations to support nuclear power in additional nations by providing small nuclear power plants and leased fuel with the provision that the resulting spent fuel would be returned by the lessee to the lessor. The final part would have the effect of stabilizing the number of fuel cycle countries with attendant non-proliferation value. Details will be given later in the paper.

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1 Plutonium together with the minor actinides, neptunium, americium and curium are called ‘transuranics” or TRU.

2 Use of nuclear power greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions but does not eliminate them. From mining to transport of ore to conversion operation to enrichment and beyond, fossil fuels are used in the nuclear fuel cycle. A recent study by the University of Sydney (Australia) has shown that nuclear power produces between 10 and 130 kilograms of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour compared with 774 to 1506 for coal.

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Transmutation and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

  • James Bresee (a1)

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