The advantage and disadvantages of plutonium

Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell looks at what happens when ordinary people confront powerful opponents.

The advantage and disadvantages of plutonium

There is a range of issues involved, notably the sound management of wastes, the conservation of resources, economics, hazards of radioactive materials and potential proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Sifting through these is not easy, with strong counter-claims made by opposing parties, but it is undoubtedly true that in recent years, the reprocessing advocates appear to be winning once again, perhaps most clearly demonstrated by the apparent change in position of the USA under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership GNEP programme.

Reprocessing is stage one — the separation of uranium and plutonium out of used fuel and conditioning of the remaining material as waste.

The advantage and disadvantages of plutonium

Fuel assemblies removed from a reactor are very radioactive and produce heat, so are cooled mostly at the reactor site or otherwise at a central storage facility or at the reprocessing plant for a number of years as the level of radioactivity decreases considerably.

For most types of fuel, reprocessing occurs anything from 5 to 25 years after reactor discharge. Recycling is then stage two — the use of the uranium and plutonium from the reprocessing plant, which can be either as mixed oxide MOX fuel or reprocessed uranium RepU fuel in current reactors or as fuel for future Generation IV reactors.

Reprocessing effectively sets up the possibility of recycling. Although world uranium resources are extensive, many people do not them see them alone as a lasting solution to world energy needs. If nuclear power expands rapidly, the quantity of uranium mined and processed each year may have to rise from the current 40, tonnes per annum, totonnes and beyond.

The management of nuclear waste remains one of the main concerns of the public and could also constrain the future expansion of nuclear.

For nuclear power to be seen as sustainable, it is important that natural uranium resources are conserved as much as possible and that wastes are managed in a safe and durable way. Reprocessing arguably contributes to sound stewardship of uranium resources by allowing the recycling of reusable materials, which introduced as MOX fuel and RepU can save around one quarter of uranium needs.

It also minimises high-level waste toxicity and volume; after treatment, the level of toxicity is only one tenth of what it was and its volume down to one fifth. The wastes can be conditioned into a passive form that will be safely stored pending final disposal. The scientific and technical community generally feels confident that there already exist technical solutions to such used fuel and nuclear waste conditioning and disposal, with a wide consensus on the safety and benefits of geological disposal.

A great deal of reprocessing has been going on since the s, originally for military purposes, to recover plutonium for weapons from low burnup used fuel, which has been in a reactor for only a very few months.

So far, some 80, tonnes oftonnes discharged of used fuel from commercial power reactors has been reprocessed. In the UK, metal fuel elements from the first generation gas-cooled commercial reactors Magnox have been reprocessed at Sellafield for about 50 years.

The advantage and disadvantages of plutonium

From tooxide fuels were also reprocessed, using part of the plant modified for the purpose. In France one tonne per year reprocessing plant is operating for metal fuels from gas-cooled reactors at Marcoule. EdF has demonstrated the use of RepU in its MWe power plants, but it is has been uneconomic during the years of low uranium prices, due to conversion costing significantly more than for fresh uranium, and enrichment needing to be separate because of U and U impurities in the reprocessed fuel.

Provision has been made, however, to store reprocessed RepU for up to years as a strategic reserve. In the USA, no civil reprocessing plants are now operating, though three were originally built. The final one, at Barnwell in South Carolina, was closed inowing to a change in government policy, ruling out all civilian reprocessing as a facet of US non-proliferation policy.

Much of the opposition to reprocessing centres on a huge amount of hype about plutonium created by anti-nuclear forces. On both counts there are substances in daily use that, per unit of mass, have equal or greater chemical toxicity such as arsenic and cyanide and also radiotoxicity the plutonium decay product americium used in smoke detectors.The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fission show us that when it is used appropriately, it can be an amazing benefit to society.

''Burning'' Weapons Plutonium in CANDU Reactors -- Nat'l Academy of Sciences

When it is used incorrectly, . Additionally, plutonium is also used in a fast neutron reactor where it acts like a fuel. The nuclear power produced due to plutonium has far reaching advantages and applications.

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The Advantage and Disadvantages of Plutonium PAGES 3. WORDS 2, View Full Essay.

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More essays like this: plutonium, advantages of plutonium, disadvantages of plutonium. Not sure what I'd do without @Kibin - Alfredo Alvarez, student @ Miami University. Exactly what I needed. - Jenna Kraig, student @ UCLA.

Sep 22,  · The plutonium on Cassini is not going to explode like a nuclear bomb, experts say. Bomb-grade plutonium so named because it has particles in the nucleus--splits and sets off reactions far more readily than the Pu riding on Cassini.

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