In one of the entries on my series of posts on the Integral Fast Reactor, I pointed out that a next-generation nuclear-power-plus-full-fuel-recycling plant would require only 1 tonne of natural uranium fuel (or thorium, or nuclear waste, or depleted uranium) per year, for a 1,000 MWe plant. However, I recently got asked this related question:
Do you know of any sources where I can find what the fuel requirements would be for a typical 1 GW Gen 3 plant running for a year?
This is an interesting question. Two obviously modern plants to consider are the Westinghouse AP1000 (four are currently under construction in China) and the AREVA EPR (two are being built in Europe).
The AP1000 uses 4.25 % enriched fuel and achieves a burnup of 60 GWd/t (details here). The EPR uses 5% enriched fuel to get 62 GWd/t (details here). The following Excel table illustrates my calculations (blue = inputs, green = calculations, bold = results) — click on the table to download the .xlsx file and play around with it yourself.
This estimates a natural uranium metal use of 108 to 117 tonnes U per GWe per year, using an enriched fuel loading of 21 to 25 t for the two designs (1,115 and 1,650 MWe respectively, running at about 92% capacity factor). The EPR appears to be slightly more efficient than the AP1000 when levelised on a 1 GWe basis.
Note: If 0.2% U-235 tails were left over after enrichment (rather than 0% assumed above), then the value in row 9 (% nat) would become 0.51, and the corresponding U/GWe/yr for the AP1000 would be 163 t, and for EPR it would be 150 t.
My calculations, based on the performance documentation, are similar to the generalised calculations provided by the WNA, as given below: (more…)