Russian proposal for nuclear fuel leasing and recycling
At the recent World Nuclear Fuel Cycle conference in Abu Dhabi, a new concept of nuclear fuel leasing was publicly proposed, writes Ian Hore-Lacy.
The leasing concept has been nebulous, but essentially means that the uranium supplier retains ownership right through to accepting back the high-level wastes, relieving the utility of any responsibility for those wastes. For several years the Khlopin Institute in Russia has been developing for Tenex a new fuel recycling model. REMIX (from Regenerated Mixture) fuel is produced directly from a non-separated mix of recycled uranium and plutonium from reprocessing used fuel, with a low-enriched uranium (LEU, up to 17% U-235) make-up comprising about 20% of the mix. This gives fuel initially with about 1% Pu-239 and 4% U-235 which can sustain burn-up of 50 GWd/t over four years.
The used REMIX fuel is then reprocessed and recycled again, after low-enriched uranium top up.