Used Nuclear Fuel as a Fuel Source for Fast Reactors – Developer’s Survey Results

Virginia Recycles Used/Spent Nuclear Fuel has created a brief survey for developers of Fast Reactors to better understand if and how they could or can assist with the over 4 decade problem of Used Nuclear Fuel (UNF) by consuming it as a fuel source.

We will initially survey developers that are listed in the GATEWAY FOR ACCELERATED INNOVATION IN NUCLEAR (GAIN) Advanced Nuclear Directory.

The mission of the GAIN initiative is to provide the nuclear energy industry with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move advanced nuclear technologies toward commercialization.

The resultant  reference document we are compiling can be used by Governments (National, State, County, and Municipal) to use as a guide to recycling UNF for use in Fast Reactors.

Once again our mission at Virginia Recycles Used/Spent Nuclear Fuel is to convince Virginia or any state to accept UNF to recycle as a Fast Reactor fuel source. Benefits of a state’s acceptance would be establishment of a Private-Public UNF Recycle Facility, Fuel Fabrication Facility with co-located Next Generation Reactor(s), a Carbon Free National Laboratory, Micro-Grid and DOD Micro-Reactor Research parks to name a few. This would be accomplished by leveraging the $40 Billion Nuclear Waste Fund to seed this states involvement. This would effectively establish the accepting state state as the leader in Nation Wide Recycling activities in fueling of America’s energy in fast reactors.

The purpose of this survey is two-fold:

  • To understand each reactor developers fueling needs as it pertains to recycled UNF as a fuel source such as fuel composition, consumption amount, rate of use and refueling intervals.
  • The possible collaboration with Developer(s) if UNF Recycle concept is adopted by a state Governor.

If you know of a Next Generation or other Reactor Company that may not have been contacted, please send them the below link to be included in this survey and resultant document. Thank you

You can respond to this Survey at

The information that will be listed here will be in the order as received from each Developer.

Survey Results

The processing of Used Nuclear Fuel in the United States to ultimately be Recycled in Gen IV fast reactor technology is the Best Solution that Environmentalist and anti nuclear groups could wish for!

It is becoming very popular among start-up companies engaged in innovation for next generation reactor technology.  These technologies show promise and we thank them for answering our survey.

  1. ARC Nuclear -

  • Contact: Robert Braun
  • 100 MWe modular design
  • Sodium Fast Reactor based on the EBR-II process

This technology will use pyroprocessing to prepare fuel for fast reactor recycling.  It uses a solid fuel system optimized to use fuel fabrication depleted uranium, used nuclear fuel, or excess weapons grade plutonium as fuel.  It is small enough to be portable and is passively (“walk-away”) safe.  The reactor can operate for twenty years before requiring refueling.  The used fuel can be further recycled through pyroprocessing to be reused in the reactor.

Some added information about this design type

YouTube video of the EBR-II reactor tests in April 1986 which simulated both Fukushima and Three Mile Island accidents in which the reactor shut itself down with no operator interaction.  The ultimate safety envelope.

This is the Technical Document (PDF) that describes the EBR-II fast reactor recycling method suitable for all audiences.

The film “Pandora’s Promise”.  Watch the full-length film describing how much society can benefit from nuclear power.

2. Elysium, Inc.

  • Contact: Ed Pheil
  • Advanced Reactor
  • 50-1200 MWe – custom designable Molton Chloride Salt Fast Reactor
  • Liquid Fuel Design

The liquid fuel concept has the advantage of eliminating the solid fuel manufacture process.  In addition, reprocessing is not necessary since existing used fuel only needs to be ground into small pieces and dissolved into the Chlorine Salt for the process to work.  The process requires plutonium (like that from the excess weapons grade stockpile), actinides from used nuclear fuel, or HALEU to start the fission.  After this process, used nuclear fuel, depleted uranium, or more stockpile plutonium can be added as more power is required.  Fast fission allows continuous chain reactions essentially forever and fission products can be allowed to accumulate because there is no parasitic neutron issue like there is with thermal neutrons.  Modular parts are able to be replaced if necessary (including the containment vessel).  Gas is used to transfer heat to produce steam for power production.

There are also provisions for production of medical isotopes, especially Mo-99.  Volatile fission products are separated in real time.  The life of the reactor is dictated by the life of the containment vessel, which is assumed to be 60 years.  At that point, the fuel can be purified to remove fission products and reuse the fuel.

This is an elegant design for a reactor and can supply any level of power required since its fuel what is currently categorized as “Waste”.  Revenue streams come from being paid to take existing waste material, marketing of electricity, and marketing of process heat.  The production model of this reactor is expected to be available in the early 2030's.

Click on image to listen!

Ed Pheil Interview with Steve Curtis & Host Jose Negron
Ed Pheil Interview with Steve Curtis & Host Jose Negron

3. Hybrid Nuclear, Inc. -

  • Contact: Michael Keller
  • Advanced Reactor
  • Up to 1 GW
  • Hybrid Natural Gas/Coal Gasification/Liqiud Synfuels and Nuclear reactor
  • TRISO Fuel

Uses nuclear energy to enhance the fossil fuel burning side of the hybrid approach (60% fossil, 40% nuclear) to produce energy with reduced pollution.  TRISO fuel, though more expensive than other solid fuel types, is especially proliferation-resistant because it is inherently difficult to reprocess because of its fuel coating approach.  This reactor claims production in the $1,400/kW construction cost, which is on the order of the cost of a natural gas plant.  It can be designed to use thorium or used nuclear fuel, but is not currently designed to do so.  It counts on the Deep Isolation, LLC method of disposal of used nuclear fuel even though no State has consented to take the used fuel.

4. Radiant Nuclear, Inc. -

  • Contact: Doug Bernauer
  • Small Thermal Reactor
  • Triso-fueled Small Modular Reactors (micro-reactors for unique remote power applications)