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Way to Reduce Toxicity of Radioactive Waste Found in Russia
December 29, 2015 11:55

Russian scientists have found a way to solve the problem of radioactive waste accumulation and to reduce their toxicity considerably. Scientists successfully ran an experiment in extracting and separating americium and curium from waste nuclear fuel in the framework of the project of fast neutron reactors.

The experiment was carried out by experts of the A. Bochvar Research Institute, which is a leader in development of the nuclear fuel cycle technologies and the Mayak production association. Until today this process was carried out in laboratories only. The final result has confirmed that the specified technology can be applied on the industrial scale as well.

"It will enable us to "burn out" nuclear fuel almost completely and considerably reduce the problem of radioactive waste, including that which is stored in "burial grounds".

The experiment showed that this process is possible industrially. While nuclear fuel is used in a reactor, the so-called minor actinoids - radioactive elements americium, curium, and neptunium get accumulated there. Until now it was impossible to reuse these radioactive components. Actinoids have high-level of radioactivity, and so the waste containing them has to be stored for thousands of years. Nevertheless, in case of extraction of these elements from the irradiated nuclear fuel, actinoids can be reused as fuel, and the nuclear waste remaining after their extraction has a much lower level of radioactivity.

Involvement of americium in a closed nuclear fuel cycle is one of the key tasks of the Russian project Breakthrough, which aims at developing future nuclear power technologies with full bridging of a nuclear fuel cycle on the basis of the fast neutron reactor BREST-OD-300.

“One of the tasks for fast neutron reactors is bridging a fuel cycle and involving plutonium, neptunium and americium into it. Unlike curium and other long-lasting active elements of reactors, americium can be already used in fast reactors today, which will reduce radioactive waste impact on the environment - the chief expert of the A. Bochvar Research Institute Andrey Shadrin reported.

As reported earlier, the first Russian fuel assembly containing nitride nuclear fuel with the radioactive element americium would be sent to reactor tests in 2016. In order to check the fuel response the fuel assembly will be transported to work in the research reactor BOR-60 in Dimitrovgrad.



Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Radioactive Waste Environment    

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