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Washington, DC, United States

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.

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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