[ RadSafe ] "There's No Such Thing As Nuclear Waste" Three stage Indian nuclear programme

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Mar 15 12:13:01 CDT 2009

Dear Dr Stanford,

Thank you very much for the references to literature. They will provide  information on many advanced areas of nuclear technology.  They will be very useful for me as I  have commitments to write popular science articles in some of the leading English language dailies in India.

India opted for  a three stage nuclear power programme
(conceptually from 50's) as it has very moderate uranium resources with an abysmally low grade ore of 0.1%  and very rich thorium resources
Besides, the Government is facing a very hostile environment in mining its best grade ore. India is going ahead with its program.

India's nuclear program  may be more ambitious as it wants to use U-238 to produce Pu-239 and at the last stage to produce U-233 by irradiating thorium-232; the technology development is needed in several areas.Among them perhaps the most important is to handle fuel, emitting hard gamma rays from the precursors of  U-233.


From: George Stanford <gstanford at aya.yale.edu>
To: HOWARD.LONG at comcast.net
Cc: Radsafe <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Sent: Saturday, 14 March, 2009 22:55:36
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] "There's No Such Thing As Nuclear Waste"

Dr. Long:

        While I'll drink to most of what you say, there's a misunderstanding that's all too common.

At 10:45 AM 3/14/2009,you wrote:
> "What would energy costs be if "nuclear waste" were recycled like France and the USNavy now do . . .?"

        Fact is, "recycling" as currently practised by France does very little to improve resource utilization.  Thermal reactors (the kind now used in France and elsewhere) cannot extract even one percent of the energy latent in the mined uranium. The U.S. once-through cycle used about 0.7% of the ore's energy.  By recycling the plutonium (twice) and a little of the uranium from the spent fuel, France can come up to something like 0.9%.

        For one thing, the enrichment process leaves behind some 90% of the energy in the form of DU, and perhaps 5% of the energy that makes it into the fuel gets used.

        The only way to get at the other 99% percent is in a fast-neutron spectrum.  The French know all this, of course, which is why they (along with China, India, Japan, Russia, . . .) are working on the development of fast reactors.

        Development of the U.S. fast reactor, the IFR (a project I worked on), was terminated for not-technical reasons in 1994, when it was on the verge of readiness for a commercial demonstration.  General Electric continued low-level development, and is now ready and able to build a commercial-scale demonstration plant (the S-PRISM), given some seed money.  The demo should be funded.

        I'm not familiar with what the U.S. Navy does.  However they use thermal reactors with highly enriched uranium, I believe, which leaves even more of the ore's energy behind in DU.

        Here are some references, for anyone who wants to do some background reading on the IFR.  It's one of the best-kept (unclassified) secrets.

Hannum, W. H., G. E. Marsh and G. S. Stanford, "Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste." Scientific American, December 2005, pp 84-91.

Till, Charles E., "Plentiful Energy and the IFR Story," International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology (IJNG2E). Vol 1, No. 1. pp 212-221
<http://home.comcast.net/~georgestanford1/wsb/IFR_Story.IJNG.Gg.pdf >

Stanford, George S. , "Integral Fast Reactors: Source of Safe, Abundant, Non-Polluting Power." December 2001
<http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA378.html >

Till. Charles E., "Reminiscences of Reactor Development at Argonne National Laboratory." W.B. Lewis Lecture, Canadian Nuclear Society, Saint John, New Brunswick , June 4, 2007
<http://home.comcast.net/~georgestanford1/REMINISCENCES_OF_REACTOR_DEVELOPMENT.pdf  >
or < http://tinyurl.com/2gnctw>

Blees, Tom, Prescription for the Planet: The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises. Booksurge, 2008. <http://www.prescriptionfortheplanet.com/ > .

Shuster, Joseph M.  Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040. < http://www.beyondfossilfools.com/>

Kirsch, Steve.  "The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project."  August 2008.


                George Stanford
                Reactor physicist, retired

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