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Transmutation of isotopes - Ecological and energy production aspects
KTH, Superseded Departments, Physics.
2000 (English)In: Acta Physica Polonica B, ISSN 0587-4254, Vol. 31, no 1, 107-122 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper describes principles of Accelerator-Driven Transmutation of Nuclear Wastes (ATW) and gives some flavour of the most important topics which are today under investigations in many countries. Pin assessment of the potential impact of ATW on a future of nuclear energy is also given. Nuclear reactors based on self-sustained fission reactions - after spectacular development in fifties and sixties, that resulted in deployment of over 400 power reactors - are wrestling today more with public acceptance than with irresolvable technological problems. In a whole spectrum of reasons which resulted in today's opposition against nuclear power few of them are very relevant for the nuclear physics community and they arose from the fact that development of nuclear power had been handed over to the nuclear engineers and technicians with some generically unresolved problems, which should have been solved properly by nuclear scientists. In a certain degree of simplification one can say, that most of the problems originate from very specific features of a fission phenomenon: self-sustained chain reaction in fissile materials and very strong radioactivity of fission products and very long half-life of some of the fission and activation products. And just this enormous concentration of radioactive fission products in the reactor core is the main problem of managing nuclear reactors: it requires unconditional guarantee for the reactor core integrity in order to avoid radioactive contamination of the environment; it creates problems to handle decay heat in the reactor core and finally it makes handling and/or disposal of spent fuel almost a philosophical issue, due to unimaginable long time scales of radioactive decay of some isotopes. A lot can be done to improve the design of conventional nuclear reactors (like Light Water Reactors); new, better reactors can be designed but it seems today very improbable to expect any radical change in the public perception of conventional nuclear power. In this context a lot of hopes and expectations have been expressed for novel systems called Accelerator-Driven Systems, Accelerator-Driven Transmutation of Waste or just Hybrid Reactors. All these names are used for description of the same nuclear system combining a powerful particle accelerator with a subcritical reactor. A careful analysis of possible environmental impact of ATW together with limitation of this technology is presented also in this paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 31, no 1, 107-122 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-19546ISI: 000085349000013OAI: diva2:338238
QC 20100525Available from: 2010-08-10 Created: 2010-08-10Bibliographically approved

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