Globally increasing clean energy demand coupled with limited naturally occurring uranium availability is expected to be the key driving factor for nuclear waste recycling market over the next seven years. Constantly growing fuel demand in nuclear power plants specifically in emerging countries like Japan is anticipated to propel market growth over the forecast period. Nuclear waste half-life is the amount of time taken before half of a compound radioactivity has died. Nuclear waste recycling process is anticipated to yield around 90% usable plutonium and uranium which has a long half-life enabling more usable energy for a longer time span. Uranium is reused as new fuel for commercial nuclear power plants while long lived radioactive element such as plutonium finds application as fabricated new fuel for advanced reactors to be developed commercially. Nuclear waste recycling extends available uranium life and is an efficient & effective way in order to reduce waste amount. National energy security is expected to be a major driver for market growth over the forecast period. This is because recycling used fuel closes the fuel cycle thereby gaining 25% to 30% more energy from original uranium.
Recycling nuclear waste involves extracting usable elements for energy production. Most widely used method for nuclear waste disposal is to bury it deep underground. High level radioactive wastes require deeper depths as they are quite toxic and dangerous. There are various other radioactive nuclear waste disposal methods such as under water storage and nuclear waste vitrification. The Swedes have a facility in Oskarshamn, storing nuclear radioactive waste for as long as 100,000 years. The U.S. had an ongoing project for years called Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository,in Nevada, which finally got terminated in 2011. The world’s most experienced scientists are working to solve waste problem by recycling nuclear waste. Successful nuclear waste recycling is expected to reduce the radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants by almost 90%. It is not easy to deal radiation especially in nuclear waste and maintenance materials. This is expected to hinder global market growth and pose challenges to industry participants over the forecast period. Recycling used fuel avoids natural resources wastage. Uranium and plutonium obtained as a result of recycling nuclear waste helps save around 30% uranium otherwise required. Low greenhouse gas emission coupled with readily available technology for recycling is expected to create lucrative opportunities for industry participants over the forecast period.
France gets more than half of its electricity from nuclear power and recycles its used fuels. Other countries utilizing used fuel include UK, Russia and Japan. U.S. currently does not allow nuclear waste recycling owing to nuclear proliferation risk and rising cost at Yucca Mountain for direct disposal. The countries which adapted nuclear waste recycling or reprocessing include Belgium, China and Switzerland. Countries following direct disposal methods include Canada, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and U.S. South Korea and U.S. are expected to shift from direct disposal to nuclear waste recycling while Germany is taking initiatives to shift from recycling to direct disposal methods.
Different countries have undertaken different initiatives for global nuclear waste recycling process. For instance, Japan has underground laboratory at Mizunami in granite since 1996, used fuel and HLW storage facility at Rokkasho since 1995, used fuel storage under construction at Mutsu, start up 2013 and NUMO set up 2000 and site selection for deep geological repository under way to 2025, operation from 2035. China has central used fuel storage at LanZhou, repository site selection to be completed by 2020 and underground research laboratory from 2020, disposal from 2050. India has undertaken research on deep geological disposal for HLW.
Key players operating in global nuclear waste recycling market include Advanced Nuclear Fuels, Nukem Energy GmbH, Nukem Technologies GmbH, GNS GesellschaftfürNuklear-Service, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, COVRA, Tekhsnabexport, TVEL and Urenco Group.
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