In the framework of the successive 1991 and 2006 Waste Management Act, French government supported a very significant R&D program on partitioning and transmutation of minor actinides (MA). This program aims to study potential solutions for still minimizing the quantity and the hazardousness of final waste, by MA recycling. Indeed, MA recycling can reduce the heat load and the half-life of most of the waste to be buried to a couple of hundred years, overcoming the concerns of the public related to the long-life of the waste.
Within this framework, this paper aims to present the most recent progress obtained in CEA on the development of innovative actinide partitioning hydrometallurgical processes in support of their recycling, either in an homogeneous mode (MA are recycled at low concentration in all the standard reactor fuel) or in an heterogeneous mode (MA are recycled at higher concentration in specific targets, at the periphery of the reactor core). Recovery performances obtained on recent tests in high active conditions of the so-called GANEX and DIAMEX-SANEX process will be presented and discussed in light of the potential P&T scenarios. Finally, recent developments regarding the recycling of the sole Am will be presented as well as the results obtained on highly active solutions for this so-called EXAM process.
This set of results gives to the French government a portfolio of potential recycling processes which could be separately and progressively implemented if decided.