January 3, 2011

Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Technology Completed In China

Chinese scientists have successfully developed fuel reprocessing technology that will allow them to recycle exhausted nuclear fuel, various media outlets are reporting.

According to Reuters, the system was developed and tested at the No. 404 Factory of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in the Gobi Desert, and "enables the re-use of irradiated fuel and is able to boost the usage rate of uranium materials at nuclear plants by 60 folds."

In fact, according to Chinese Central Television reports, the new technology will allow the country's existing uranium supplies to be used for 3,000 years.

Reuters notes that China currently has 171,400 tons of "proven uranium resources" located primarily in the provinces of Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Liaoning and Yunnan.

BBC News reports that the project has been underway for 24 years.

"China, as well as France, the United Kingdom and Russia, actively supports reprocessing as a means for the management of highly radioactive spent fuel and as a source of fissile material for future nuclear fuel supply," Reuters said on Sunday, adding the country's government is "planning a massive 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 gigawatt of total generating capacity."

The news agency says that China is aiming to have 40 gigawatts of installed nuclear generating capacity by 2020, but that officials say that they "could double the goal to about 80 GW as faster expansion was one of the more feasible solutions for achieving emissions reduction goals."

As such, China will need to source more than 60 percent of the uranium needed for its nuclear power plants from overseas by 2020, even if the country moves forward with a modest nuclear expansion plan," Chinese researchers said, according to the Reuters report.


On the Net: