Net Zero Compare

Spent Nuclear Fuel

Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) refers to the used fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor and is no longer efficient for sustaining a nuclear reaction. After several years of generating energy, nuclear fuel such as uranium oxide accumulates fission products and transuranic elements, which significantly decrease its efficacy and usability. This used fuel is highly radioactive and generates heat, necessitating careful handling, cooling, and storage.

Typically, Spent Nuclear Fuel is stored in deep pools of water, known as spent fuel pools, located at the reactor site. These pools serve to both cool the SNF and provide shielding from radiation. Over time, as the immediate radioactivity diminishes, the SNF can be transferred to dry cask storage systems, where it is placed in sturdy, leak-proof containers for long-term management.

The management of Spent Nuclear Fuel is a critical aspect of the nuclear energy industry, requiring strict regulatory oversight to ensure safety, environmental protection, and public health. Advances in recycling and reprocessing technologies offer potential solutions for reducing the volume of SNF and reclaiming valuable materials, contributing to a more sustainable nuclear energy cycle.