Evaluation of the Front- and Back-End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle for SMRs
The Hague treatment plant. Photo: ORANO.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) may require adjustments or new developments for the fuel cycle. Some SMR vendors have proposed the utilisation of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) in their designs. HALEU has enrichment levels between 5% and 19%. The impact of using HALEU in the global nuclear fuel supply chain and in the entire fuel cycle may need to be further assessed.
Similarly, for countries pursuing a closed nuclear fuel cycle, the ability to use mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel may also be an important attribute for some SMR designs. Other advanced fuels proposed for various SMR concepts may also pose challenges, both from the supply chain and fuel manufacturing point of view, and from the long term management of used fuel and radioactive waste. Due to the possibility of factory production, the economics and the potential increasing returns to scale of the front-end of SMR construction is of considerable interest.