Nuclear recycling study weighs value
Report demonstrates nuclear recycling should
be integrated with long-term repository
Nuclear fuel recycling, as part of a portfolio
strategy in which a large-scale integrated recycling plant complements
a repository, could be attractive for solving the long-term used
nuclear fuel management requirement of the United States nuclear
power market, according to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study.
Conducted for Bethesda, Md.-based AREVA Inc.,
a United States nuclear vendor, BCG performed the first extensive
study of proprietary operational and financial data from decades
of AREVA’s nuclear recycling experience at the La Hague and
“This study shows that current generation
recycling technologies for used nuclear fuel are in an economic
range that can be competitive,” said Dennis Spurgeon, assistant
secretary for Nuclear Energy. “This economic benchmark is
useful as we work on advanced recycling technologies that make better
use of our energy resources and reduce the space and time needed
to store nuclear waste.”
“As companies and governments decide how
to navigate the opportunities presented by nuclear power technologies,
BCG’s economic analysis of AREVA’s experience as one
of the world’s leading reprocessing and recycling plant operators
offers vital insight into the development of a comprehensive nuclear
waste management strategy,” said Rick Peters, senior vice
president and the head of BCG’s worldwide energy practice.
Using AREVA’s technical experience, BCG
evaluated the costs of a large scale fuel treatment plant with enhanced
processes integrated with recycled fuel manufacturing.
The study reports that recycling, as part of a
portfolio strategy in which an integrated treatment and recycling
plant complements a repository such as the planned Yucca Mountain
repository, offers benefits including:
- Increasing the capacity of Yucca Mountain by a factor of four
by recycling newly discharged fuel within four years and cooling
the vitrified high-level waste for 25 years at the recycling facility.
- Providing a comparable cost of disposal while eliminating the
need for a second repository during the 50 years of recycling
- Creating an effective long-term hedge on rising fuel costs by
providing 20-25 percent of the annual nuclear fuel needs in the
United States through recycled products.
- Reducing used fuel inventory by removing the newly discharged,
hotter fuel for recycling.
- Eliminating the need for additional storage at reactor sites
while recycling some of the older legacy fuel in dilution with
For a copy of the study, visit www.bcg.com/publications.