Spent Nuclear Fuel

Like it or not, in Canada we use nuclear power (mostly in Ontario). This source of electrical power has a nasty side-effect: waste from the reactor is possibly the most toxic substance known to man.

The cost of stewardship of this waste grows proportionally with the amount of waste produced. The more nuclear power we consume, the more waste we have to take care of for the coming centuries.

It would be nice if we could just turn the 'nukes' off and cut our losses. But our need for electricity isn't dropping. When talk about electric cars, we need to be honest and realize we're talking about moving our demand for gasoline to a demand for electricity. We will need 3,000 giant wind turbines or PV solar fields for every 1 nuclear reactor - and they will not produce reliable sustained power needed for our businesses and society.

As of this post, the price of Uranium is $65 USD/lb, about the same price as silver. This represents about 10% of the life-time cost of a reactor. This doesn't include the centuries of waste fuel management.

What if we could re-use waste fuel? What if we could re-use it 3, 5, or even 10 times? The CANDU reactor design allows us to do precisely this. We can turn the waste fuel cost centre into an asset and reduce our need for fresh uranium. This processes is similar to enrichment - remove the less than 10% of mass that inhibit fission, and re-use.

Waste fuel from American, Russian, British, and Japanese reactors only need to be cut into shape for a CANDU - even easier.

The CANDU Cycle

Now that there is enough waste fuel in Canada (and the world) to justify construction, isn't it time to consider a waste-fuel processing plant to reduce our mining of uranium? With technology like that, Canada can become a nuclear powerhouse helping countries reduce production nuclear waste. This will create high paying Canadian jobs in a growing sector of the world economy.