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Sowder A.,EPRI | Redmond E.,Nuclear Energy Institute NEI | Murray P.,IBM | Anness M.,Westinghouse Electrical Company | And 3 more authors.
International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants, ICAPP 2014 | Year: 2014

Fast reactors are a corner stone energy technology with the potential to greatly increase natural resource utilization for sustainable energy generation while also reducing used fuel disposal burdens and supporting nuclear security and non-proliferation objectives. Therefore, a focused research, development and demonstration (RD&D) investment in fast reactor technology is important for developing and maintaining options for future U.S. energy, economic, environmental and national security interests. Good ideas and intentions alone are insufficient to drive the level of industry investment needed to advance the state of nuclear technology to the point of commercial adoption of Generation IV nuclear energy systems. The U.S. government remains the principal source of RD&D funding for high risk endeavors at this scale; however, vendors and utilities represent the engines of commercial implementation and must be meaningfully involved in all phases of development. In this paper, a new conversation is proposed on the means and ends for prioritizing and maturing promising nuclear energy technology options. Specifically, approach, principles, roles, resources and priorities are outlined to serve as a basis for an industry-supported fast reactor RD&D program for the U.S. As in any long-term investment strategy, the proposed pathway represents just one of what should be a multi-pronged, diverse, balanced portfolio of nuclear technologies for a robust, long-term national RD&D program. In order to maintain the option of a deployable U.S.-based fast reactor technology by midcentury, action is needed now given the long lead times required for development and demonstration of new technologies and supporting infrastructures.

Akkurt H.,EPRI | Cummings K.,Nuclear Energy Institute NEI
ICNC 2015 - International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety | Year: 2015

Spent fuel pools (SFPs) were originally designed with low density storage racks that maintained subcriticality based on geometric separation. With the increasing need for storage, due to elimination of reprocessing as a viable alternative, SFPs with high-density racks required neutron absorber materials to control reactivity and maintain criticality safety margins. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) conducted an industry wide survey in 2013 and the survey was updated recently based on additional utility data provided by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The survey results show that about one-quarter of the pools in the United States either do not have neutron absorber material in the SFP or do not credit it even when it is present. Also, about half of the plants in the U.S. use BORAL® as the neutron absorber material followed by Metamic, Carborundum, Alcan, and borated stainless steel. For neutron absorber monitoring, the majority of the plants rely on a coupon testing program. However, for those plants that never installed coupons or have exhausted their supply of coupons from coupon sampling, insitu measurements at periodic intervals can be performed to determine the status of the neutron absorber. In this paper, an overview of the types of neutron absorber materials used in SFPs, the distribution of absorber material use by material type, types of monitoring programs as part of aging management programs, operational experience to date with different absorber materials based on monitoring programs, and industry initiatives toward addressing long-term performance issues related to neutron absorber material degradation and monitoring are presented.

Sowder A.,EPRI | McCullum R.,Nuclear Energy Institute NEI | Kindfuller V.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology
15th International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference 2015, IHLRWM 2015 | Year: 2015

Views on the feasibility and utility of deep borehole disposal (DBD) tend to be highly polarized - many skeptics quickly dismiss the concept while proponents avidly promote the benefits. There is room for a more neutral stance to inform the debate. In an effort to find this middle ground, this paper examines DBD from a strategic industry perspective, considering its potential role in the world of used fuel and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) disposal as a potential technology for (1) niche applications and (2) a confidence building option to complement conventional approaches to managing long-lived radioactive wastes. DBD is not a panacea for any and all used fuel and HLW disposal needs, and there are many technical challenges to be overcome for DBD deployment. However, the many challenges are joined by positive attributes that could be realized through a phased DBD demonstration. Given chronic delays of many national repository programs, commercial entities in these countries must continue to manage inventories of used nuclear fuel and HLW without clear disposition paths. In the face of such uncertainty, technology options, like DBD, could offer substantial value to industry. In light of the current lack of alternatives, DBD may warrant further development and demonstration to better define and maximize its potential value.

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