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ECN publication
The economics of reprocessing vs. direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel
Zwaan, B.C.C. van der; Bunn, M., Fetter, S., Holdren, J.P.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-6-2005
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-RX--05-127 Article (scientific)
Number of pages:

Published in: Nuclear Technology, 150, June 2005, pp. 209-230 (), , , Vol., p.-.


We assess the economics of reprocessing versus direct disposal of spent fuel. The uranium price at which reprocessing spent fuel from light water reactors (LWRs) and recycling the resulting plutonium and uranium in LWRs would become economic is estimated for a range of reprocessing prices and other fuel cycle costs. The contribution of both fuel cycle options to the cost of electricity is also estimated. A similar analysis is performed to compare fast neutron reactors (FRs) with LWRs. We review available information about various fuel cycle costs, as well as the quantities of uranium likely to be recoverable at a range of future prices. We conclude that the once-through LWR fuel cycle is likely to remain significantly cheaper than recycling in either LWRs or FRs for at least the next 50 yr, even with substantial growth in nuclear power.

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