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US puts millions towards nuclear recycling projects

The US Department of Energy is investing US$ 36 million (EUR 36 million) in 11 projects seeking to boost nuclear power as a reliable source of clean energy while limiting the waste produced by advanced nuclear reactors.

Recycling is a core strategy for R&D teams.Projects funded through the government’s ONWARDS programme will develop technologies to resolve the waste and storage challenges associated with reactor fuel cycles. Those being backed include:

  • Citrine Informatics: using artificial intelligence and physics-based simulation methods to develop durable waste forms that significantly reduce the repository burden from molten salt reactors. Awarded US$ 900 000.
  • Idaho National Laboratory:  developing an innovative and simple process for recycling metal fuels based on existing commercial thermal separation technologies that could greatly increase the commercial viability of metal fuel recycling. Awarded US$ 2.1 million.
  • Oklo: studying the economic viability of a state-of-the-art used nuclear fuel recycling facility. Awarded US$ 4 million.
  • Rutgers University: a simple, scalable route for turning used nuclear fuel into high-density, durable cermet (a heat-resistant ceramic and metallic composite). Awarded US$ 4 million.

‘This major investment will allow us to build a first-of-a-kind fuel recycling facility,’ says Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and ceo of Oklo. The new facility will convert waste from existing used nuclear fuel and Oklo’s own waste stream into clean energy. The company says it will realise a dramatic cost reduction while solving a key supply chain need.

‘A commercial-scale fuel recycling facility will change the economic paradigm for advanced fission,’ DeWitte adds.

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