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spent fuel management
Compared with the huge atmospheric emissions from fossil-fuel energy, nuclear wastes exist in small, highly manageable amounts that can be stored without harm to people or the environment.
One kilogram of uranium in the PBMR fuel has a greater energy output than 430 tons of the best coal with an ash content (waste) of up to 40 percent. A large coal-fired power station uses about 2 200 trainloads of coal per year (six a day), while only 2 truckloads of fuel per week will be required for 24 PBMR nuclear power stations of equivalent capacity. For the PBMR demonstration unit at Koeberg, 10 truckloads would have been needed for the initial load, and only 4 truckloads per year for the replacement of spent fuel.
The DPP200 PBMR module will generate about 23 tons of spent fuel pebbles per annum, less than 1 ton of which is uranium. The storage of PBMR spent fuel should be easier than for fuel elements or rods from conventional nuclear reactors, as no safety graded cooling systems are needed to prevent fuel failure.
The PBMR system has been designed to deal with nuclear waste efficiently and safely. There will be enough room for the spent fuel to be stored in dry storage tanks at the PBMR plant for the power stationís expected 40-year operational life, during which time no spent fuel will have to be removed from the site. After the plant has been shut down, the spent fuel can be safely stored on site for another 40 years before being sent to a final repository.
Last Updated: 6 February 2017
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