Funding for GNEP studies announced

11 May 2007

The US Department of Energy has allocated $60 million for research into conceptual design of future fuel cycle facilities and reactors necessary for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

The money would engage industry experts in the conceptual design of the initial used nuclear fuel recycling centre and the 'advanced recycling reactor' - also known as the 'advanced burner reactor' - that would generate electricity while destroying wastes.

Study results from the 'funding opportunity announcement' would serve to inform the main GNEP research and development effort, which would come later.

In January the DoE awarded over $10 million for preliminary studies into the suitability of 11 sites for advanced fuel cycle facilities and burner reactors.

Under GNEP, so-called 'fuel cycle nations' would provide guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel to other nations, to be returned after use for recycling. Uranium and plutonium recovered during recycling would be reused in fresh fuel, while certain recovered actinides would be included in fuel for recycling reactors. Destroying those actinides would produce energy while decreasing radioactive waste volumes by a factor of one hundred.

Recognising the difficulty of implementing such a scheme, a DoE release says: "The recipients of funding will also develop technology development roadmaps to describe the state of current technology, perform a technology 'gap' analysis, and define the methods and plans to acquire technology needed to achieve GNEP goals."

Between three and six research awards are expected by DoE this year. The DoE's FY2007 spending plan includes $15 million of the total allocation, FY2008 $45 million.

Further information

US Department of Energy
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

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