Wednesday, 11 April 2012

India has limited resources of uranium, but proper recycling of this radioactive element can extend the fuel supply up to 10,000 years

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 3: India has limited resources of uranium, but proper
recycling of this radioactive element can extend the fuel supply up to
10,000 years.

According to a presentation made at the national conference on
emerging trends in nuclear and chemical technology held at Gitam
University here on Tuesday, uranium sources could last for just 270
years if the present annual consumption is taken into account.
Recycling of uranium and plutonium will help in extending this fuel
cycle to 10,000 years, thus providing nuclear energy to the country
almost perennially.

Faridar Rahman Choudhury of the department of civil engineering and
environment, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, who
made the presentation said  once uranium fuel is used in a reactor, it
can be treated and put into another reactor as fresh fuel.

“This cycle can be repeated several times. Once all the energy is
finally extracted from the fuel, the waste that is left over decays to
harmlessness within a few hundred years, rather than a million years
as with standard nuclear waste,” he pointed out.

Reprocessing and recycling of uranium and plutonium helps in better
utilisation of uranium resources. This is important, as India has
limited uranium resources. Uranium recycling in presurrised heavy
water reactors in India is different from the one followed by other
countries. PHWRs have a lower burn-up and provide additional advantage.

Mr Choudhury said the uranium recycling technology uses super-critical
carbon dioxide to dissolve and recover the metal, rather than organise
solvents and aqueous acids. “It is therefore, claimed to be more
environmentally friendly. It reduces the volume of second-generation
toxic waste effluent. The depleted uranium recycled material is
converted into oxide for the production of chemical catalysts. It can
be melted and cast to manufacture commercial products including
medical isotope containers and collimators,” he added.

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