Closing the nuclear fuel cycle requires 1) extracting the transuranics in spent nuclear fuel and using them as fuel in transmutation reactors, thereby reducing by orders of magnitude the long-lived transuranics that must be buried in waste repositories that must be secured for tens to hundreds of thousands of years, and 2) transmuting a large fraction of the > 99% of uranium that is U238 into plutonium and subsequently fissioning it to extract a large fraction of the energy content of uranium. There appear to be some advantages to operating these transmutation reactors sub-critical with a neutron source.
The concept of a fast transmutation reactor driven by a tokamak D-T fusion neutron source that could be built on the basis of ITER physics and technology and ITER operating experience has been under development in a series of faculty-student conceptual design studies and student theses at Georgia Tech for the past several years.
W. M. Stacey, C. L. Stewart, J.-P. Floyd, T.M. Wilks, A.P. Moore, A.T. Bopp, M.D. Hill, S. Tandon, and A.s. Erickson. “Resolution of Fission and Fusion Technology Integration Issues: An Upgraded Design Concept for the Subcritical Advanced Burner Reactor.” Nucl. Technol. Vol. 187, 15, June 2014,
C. M. Sommer, W. M. Stacey, B. Petrovic, and C. L. Stewart. “Transmutation Fuel Cycle Analyses of the SABR Fission-Fusion Hybrid Burner Reactor for Transuranic and Minor Actinide Fuels”. Nucl. Technol. Vol. 182, 274, June 2013.
W. M. Stacey, C. M. Sommer, B. Petrovic & the Georgia Tech SABR Design Team., “Georgia Tech SABR Studies of a Fusion-Fission Hybrid Fast Burner Reactor”, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany, February 1, 2011.
W. M. Stacey. “Tutorial: Principles and Rationale of the Fusion-Fission Hybrid Burner Reactor”. FUNFI – 2011 Workshop: Fusion for Neutrons and Sub-Critical Fission Systems. Varenna, Italy. 13 September 2011.
W. M. Stacey, C. M. Sommer, T. S. Sumner, B. Petrovic, S. M. Ghiaasiaan, C. L. Stewart, “SABR Fusion-Fission Hybrid Fast Burner Reactor Based on ITER”, 11th OECD/NEA Information Exchange Meeting on Actinide and Fission Product partitioning and Transmutation, San Francisco, 1-5 November 2010.
V. Romanelli, C. Sommer, M. Salvatores, W. Stacey, W. Maschek, B. Petrovic, et al., “Advanced Fuel Cycle Scenario Study on the European Context By Using Different Burner Reactor Concepts”, 11th OECD/NEA Information Exchange Meeting on Actinide and Fission Product partitioning and Transmutation, San Francisco, 1-5 November 2010.