WPFC Expert Group on Fuel Cycle Transition Scenarios Studies (WPFC/FCTS)
Past studies of the implementation of partitioning and transmutation performed within the Nuclear Science Committee of the OECD/NEA have mostly concentrated on equilibrium mode scenarios, where the global infrastructure is fixed and mass flows of materials are constant. These studies have resulted in a deep understanding of the possibilities of partitioning and transmutation (P&T) to address nuclear waste issues, and have indicated the infrastructure requirements for several key technical approaches. While these studies have proven extremely valuable, several countries have also recognised the complex dynamic nature of the infrastructure problem: severe new issues arise when attempting to transition from current open or partially closed cycles to a final equilibrium or burndown mode. While the issues are country-specific when addressed in detail, it is believed that a series of generic issues exists related only to the current situation and to the desired end point. Some specific examples are listed here:
time lag to reach equilibrium, which can take decades to centuries,
wide range of transmutation performance for the various technologies involved,
accumulation of stockpiles of materials during either a transition phase or a growth period,
very significant, and possibly prohibitive, investments required to reach equilibrium,
complex interactions with final waste disposal paths.
The expert group will work under the guidance of the Working Party on Scientific Issues of the Fuel Cycle (WPFC).