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Dr. Ned Xoubi Chairman of Nuclear Engineering Department Jordan University of Science and Technology P.O. Box 3030, Irbid 22110, Jordan Phone: (962) 2 720-1000, Fax: (962) 2 720-1074 Email: Drxoubi@yahoo.com
During the last year we have witnessed an unprecedented number of countries expressing their interest or declaring their intention to peruse a nuclear power program for the first time, and to introduce nuclear power as part of their energy mix to meet their energy needs. Forecasts of skyrocketing oil and gas prices, in addition to other reasons concerning the availability of resources, climate change, and limited oil supply, have all contributed to this global nuclear power renaissance. The revival of nuclear energy and its ability to fulfill future energy demands will depend upon the sustainability of the nuclear fuel cycle. In current Nuclear power plants less than 5% of the uranium is burned, recycling spent nuclear fuel will enable us to reclaim valuable energy by recovering unused uranium and plutonium in the spent fuel elements, 97% of the spent fuel can be used again in manufacturing fresh fuel. Each gram of plutonium recycled for use in a MOX fuel assembly produces the same amount of electricity as 1 ton of oil. Accordingly recycling is the most sensible method of spent fuel management, and is an essential part of high level waste management. The French company La Hague, with an annual recycling capacity of 1600 tons, has recycled a total of 22,650 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel since 1976, conserving the equivalent of four years of Kuwait’s entire oil production. Recycling conserve valuable and limited natural resources by extending the life of available uranium resources, saving about 25% of the natural uranium otherwise required. It reduces Spent Fuel volume to be disposed of as high-level waste, after recycling, about 3 percent of the original fuel quantity remains as high-level waste, which then converted into compact, stable, insoluble solids for disposal, that is easier to dispose of than bulky spent fuel assemblies, in essence, recycling used nuclear fuel is an environmentally responsible choice.