University of Wisconsin Neutronics Center of Excellence

Environment and Radwaste Management

Radioactive waste management should be recognized as an issue that is significant not only to the fusion community, but also to the global environment. As fusion energy becomes a contributor to the world's energy supply by the mid 21st century, managing the many thousand cubic meters of active materials after plant decommissioning represents a real challenge to the fusion industry and cannot be relegated to the back-end as only a disposal issue. Scenarios for radwaste management include disposal in geological repositories, recycling and reuse within the nuclear industry, and clearance or release to the commercial market if the materials contain traces of radioactivity. Most fusion plants generate Class-C low-level waste, requiring near-surface burial.

The wealth of experience accumulated over the past 30-40 years of fusion power plant studies must be forged in a new strategy to reshape all aspects of handling the continual stream of radioactive materials during operation and after plant decommissioning. With tighter environmental controls and the political difficulty of building new repositories worldwide, the disposal option should be replaced with more environmentally attractive scenarios, such as:

  1. Recycle and reuse within the nuclear industry
  2. Clear or release to the commercial market if materials contain traces of radioactivity.

There is a growing international effort in support of this new trend. The introduction of the clearance category for slightly radioactive materials is an important recent development to accommodate most decommissioned waste at a cost much lower than that for traditional low-level waste produced by the majority of U.S. power plants.

In the late 1990s, we introduced the clearance option to various design concepts. The majority of the in-vessel components cannot be cleared from regulatory control even after an extended storage of 100-500 y, according to the clearance guidelines by the IAEA and the U.S. NRC. The bioshield, cryostat, and individual magnet constituents qualify for clearance. Representing 75-80% of the total waste volume, the cleared materials save a substantial disposal cost and, more importantly, free ample space in the repositories for other radwaste.

Just recently, we applied the recycling approach to the non-clearable in-vessel components (blanket, shield, and vacuum vessel). All components can potentially be recycled using conventional and advanced remote handling equipment. The online removal of specific radionuclides during recycling prolongs the reusability of materials. Transmutation of these byproducts in fusion devices is one of the means being explored to avoid their geological burial.

As an important goal for U.S. power plant studies, the national ARIES project is committed to radwaste minimization. The focus on compact devices with radwaste reduction mechanisms (such as blanket segmentation and well-optimized components) contributed most significantly to the factor of 2-4 difference in radwaste volume between recent ARIES plants and previous designs developed prior to 1995.

To make fusion a viable energy source with minimal environmental impact, we highly recommend minimizing the radwaste by design, and recycling/clearing all fusion components, if economically and technologically feasible, avoiding the disposal approach, meaning no long-term radwaste burden on future generations.

Our recent activity placed UW as the leading U.S. institute for radwaste management assessments. This activity drew the attention of our colleagues in Europe, Russia, Japan, and S. Korea, requesting collaboration with UW in this unique area of research.


Results: 41 to 68 of 68 order by: UWFDM Author TitleDate
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UWFDM-1131   Nuclear Power Without Radioactive Waste - The Promise of Lunar Helium-3; G.L. Kulcinski and H.H. Schmitt, July 2000 [presented at the Second Annual Lunar Development Conference, ``Return to the Moon II'', 20-21 July 2000, Las Vegas NV]. (9 pages, 228 kB)

Radioactive Waste Management of Fusion Power Plants; Luigi Di Pace, Laila El-Guebaly, Boris Kolbasov, Vincent Massaut and Massimo Zucchetti, April 2012 [Chapter 14 in book: Radioactive Waste. Dr. Rehab Abdel Rahman (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0551-0, InTech]. ( available online )

UWFDM-1227   Radiological Impacts of IFE Target and RTL Recycling Option: A Comparative Study; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, M. Sawan, D. Henderson, A. Varuttamaseni and the ARIES and Z-Pinch Teams, July 2004. (19 pages, 788 kB)

retrieve PDF Radwaste Management Issues; L. El-Guebaly and L. Cadwallader, September 2007 [presented at the ARIES-TNS Project Meeting, 6-7 September 2007, Idaho Falls ID]. (16 pages, 744 kB)

UWFDM-1195   Radwaste Volume in Lithium and Flibe Thick Liquid Wall and Comparison to Conventional SW Concepts; M. Youssef and M. Sawan, April 2002 [presented at the 6th International Symposium on Fusion Nuclear Technology, 7-12 April 2002, San Diego CA; published in Fusion Engineering and Design, vol. 63-64, pp. 263-269 (2002)].

Recent Accomplishments and Future Directions in U.S. Fusion Safety & Environmental Program; D. Petti et al., July 10-13, 2006 [8th IAEA TM on Fusion Power Plant Safety].

Recent Advances in Fusion Radioactive Material Studies; M. Zucchetti, L. Di Pace, L. El-Guebaly, J.-H. Han, B. N. Kolbasov, V. Massaut, Y. Someya, K. Tobita, and M. Desecures, October 2013 [presented at 27th Symposium on Fusion Technology, Sept. 24-28, 2012, Liège, Belgium; published in Fusion Engineering and Design, 88, Issues 6-8 (October 2013) 652-656.].

UWFDM-1296   Recent Developments in Environmental Aspects of D-3He Fueled Fusion Devices; Laila El-Guebaly and Massimo Zucchetti, October 2006 (revised April 2008)  [published in Fusion Engineering and Design, vol. 82, 4 (2007) 351-361]. (27 pages, 630 kB)

Recent Developments in Safety and Environmental Aspects of Fusion Power Plants; L.A. El-Guebaly and L. Cadwallader, 2009 [Chapter 9 in book: Nuclear Reactors, Nuclear Fusion and Fusion Engineering. A. Aasen and P. Olsson, Editors. NOVA Science Publishers, Inc.: Hauppauge, New York, USA. ISBN: 978-1-60692-508-9 (2009) 321-365. Also published in E-Journal: International Journal of Energy, Environment, and Economics, Volume 18, Issue 3-4. ISSN 1054-853X (2011) 201-246.]. ( available online )

retrieve PDF Recent Trend in Managing Fusion Radwaste: Recycling and Clearance, Avoiding Disposal; L. El-Guebaly, V. Massaut, K. Tobita, L. Cadwallader, March 2008 [presented at the U.S.-Japan Workshop on Power Plant Studies and Advanced Technologies, 5-7 March 2008, San Diego CA]. (27 pages, 16 MB)

UWFDM-1232   Recycling Issues Facing Target and RTL Materials of Inertial Fusion Designs; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, M. Sawan, D. Henderson, A. Varuttamaseni and the ARIES and Z-Pinch Teams, July 2004 [presented at the 15th International Symposium on Heavy Ion Inertial Fusion, 7-11 June 2004, Princeton, NJ; Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Journal, Section A, 544 (2005) 104-110]. (12 pages, 652 kB)

retrieve PDF Recycling Issues Facing Target and RTL Materials of Inertial Fusion Designs; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, M. Sawan, D. Henderson, and A. Varuttamaseni, June 2004 [presented at the HI-2004 Symposium, 7-11 June 2004, Princeton NJ]. (21 pages, 469 kB)

UWFDM-1284   Recycling and Clearance of the Slightly Activated RTLs of the 2005 Z-Pinch Design; L.A. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, M.E. Sawan, October 2005. (10 pages, 725 kB)

UWFDM-1183   Recycling of IFE Target Materials versus One-Shot Use Scenario: Key Issues and Preferred Option; L.A. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, D. Henderson, A. Varuttamaseni and the ARIES Team, November 2002. (24 pages, 978 kB)

retrieve PDF Recycling of Target Materials vs. One-Shot Use Scenario; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, D. Henderson, A. Varuttamaseni, October 2002 [presented at the ARIES Project Meeting, October 2-4, 2002, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory]. (16 pages, 320 kB)

Safety and Environmental Features; L. Cadwallader and L. El-Guebaly, August 2011 [Chapter 36 in Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia: Science, Technology, and Applications, Steven B. Krivit and Jay H. Lehr, eds., John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-89439-2]. ( available online )

retrieve PDF Safety, Activation, and Waste Disposal; Laila El-Guebaly and David Petti, August 2000 [ARIES Peer Review Meeting, 17 August 2000, University of California at San Diego]. (15 pages, 89 kB)

Some Technological Problems of Fusion Materials Management; Boris Kolbasov, Laila El-Guebaly, Vladimir Khripunov, Youji Someya, Kenji Tobita, Massimo Zucchetti, September 20, 2013 [Presented at 11th ISFNT, Barcelona, Spain, September 16-20, 2013. To be published in Fusion Engineering and Design.]. ( available online )

UWFDM-1231   Status of US, EU, and IAEA Clearance Standards and Estimates of Fusion Radwaste Classifications; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, D. Paige, and the ARIES and Z-Pinch Teams, December 2004. (18 pages, 907 kB)

Study of Radioactive Inventory Generated from W-based Components in ITER and PPCS Fusion Designs; M. Desecures, L. El-Guebaly, F. Druyts, P. Van Iseghem, V. Massaut, G. Van Oost, October 2013 [presented at 27th Symposium on Fusion Technology, Sept. 24-28, 2012, Liège, Belgium; published in Fusion Engineering and Design, 88, Issues 9-10 (October 2013) 2674-2678.].

retrieve PDF Target Recycling: Problem Definition and Preliminary Analysis for ARIES-IFE-HIB; L. El-Guebaly, October 2001 [ARIES E-Meeting, 24 October 2001]. (16 pages, 221 kB)

UWFDM-1286   The Feasibility of Recycling and Clearance of Active Materials from Fusion Power Plants; M. Zucchetti, L.A. El-Guebaly, R.A. Forrest, T.D. Marshall, N.P. Taylor, K. Tobita, November 2005 [submitted to the 12th International Conference on Fusion Reactor Materials, 4-9 December 2005, Santa Barbara CA; published in J. Nucl. Matls. 367-370 (2007) 1355-1360]. (12 pages, 1.2 MB)

UWFDM-691   The Impact of D-3He Fusion Reactors on Waste Disposal; W.F. Vogelsang and H.Y Khater, May 1987 [published in Fusion Engineering and Design 5 (1998) 367-377]. (13 pages, 734 kB)

retrieve PDF Toward the Ultimate Goal of Radwaste-Free Fusion: Recycling and Clearance, Avoiding Disposal; L. El-Guebaly, May 2011 [presented at the Colloquium in Environmental Toxicology, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3 May 2011]. (35 pages, 5.1 MB)

retrieve PDF Toward the Ultimate Goal of Radwaste-Free Fusion: Recycling and Clearance, Avoiding Geological Disposal; L. El-Guebaly, April 2008 [presented at the Department of Physics Seminar, University of Wisconsin]. (32 pages, 2.0 MB)

retrieve PDF Using Lunar Helium-3 to Generate Nuclear Power Without the Production of Nuclear Waste; G.L. Kulcinski, May 2001 [presented at the 20th International Space Development Conference, Albuquerque NM, May 24-28, 2001]. (20 pages, 1.2 MB)

UWFDM-641   Waste Disposal of Candidate Structural Materials in Fusion Reactors Utilizing Different Fuel Cycles; H.M. Attaya, M.E. Sawan, G.L. Kulcinski, April 1991 [published in Fusion Technology 22 (August 1992), pp. 115-123]. (12 pages, 728 kB)

retrieve PDF Waste Issues and Radiological Inventory in LiPb; L. El-Guebaly, P. Wilson, D. Henderson, September 2000 [ARIES Meeting, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, 18-20 September 2000]. (15 pages, 127 kB)

Results: 41 to 68 of 68 order by: UWFDM Author TitleDate
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