China to take 10 yrs for nuclear fuel recycling

The breakthrough may enable its nuclear reactors to run 3000 years with existing uranium resources.

Updated: Jan 18, 2011, 12:44 PM IST

Beijing: China, which recently claimed a breakthrough in extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, may take at least a decade to start the large-scale industrial application of spent fuel reprocessing technology, reports here said.

The breakthrough, which Chinese scientists claimed may enable the nuclear reactors to run 3000 years with existing uranium resources, may offer a future solution to end the
shortage of the supplies of uranium, the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said.

"The technological breakthrough is a crucial step toward initial practical application, which is likely to happen within a year," Li Tao, a spokeswoman for CNNC, was quoted by official China Daily as saying.

The company also announced it has set an annual revenue target of 100 billion yuan (USD 15 billion) by the end of 2015, from 41.9 billion yuan in 2010.

CNNC, the nation`s largest nuclear power developer, plans to have nuclear power projects with 16,000 megawatts (MW) capacity in operation and projects with an additional
20,000 MW capacity under construction by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, it is also expanding into the wind-power sector and said that it plans to build wind-power projects with a total capacity of 1000 MW over the next five years.

The company said in 2010 that it would invest 800 billion yuan in nuclear energy projects by 2020, in line with China`s efforts to accelerate the development of the industry.

The nation aims to increase its nuclear power capacity to 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, compared with slightly more than 9 GW at present.

To fund the expansion target, CNNC plans to list its subsidiary, CNNC Nuclear Power Co Ltd, probably in the first half of 2011, the daily said in its report.

It also pledged to accelerate overseas exploration and
processing of uranium in 2011.

Last month, CNNC produced its first barrel of uranium
in Nigeria, the company`s first overseas mine.

China`s demand for uranium could rise to 20,000 tons
annually by 2020, more than a third of the 50,572 tons mined
globally last year, according to the World Nuclear
Association.

China has more than 170,000 tons of known uranium
resources. Industry analysts said two thirds of China`s
uranium needs would depend on overseas supplies.

In June, CNNC signed its first long-term contract for
uranium ore with Cameco Corp of Canada for more than 10,000
tons over the next decade.

PTI