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Report of the Fuel Cycle Subcommittee of the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee

The Fuel Cycle Subcommittee (FCSC) of NEAC met in Washington, August 17- 19, 2010. DOE’s new science-based approach to all matters related to nuclear energy is being implemented. The general approach was outlined to NEAC in the briefing on the NE Roadmap. There are many new directions being considered, and this meeting of the FCSC was to brief the Subcommittee on new directions in nuclear energy that might go beyond our present 4.5% enriched LWRs. The goal is to develop new concepts that have advantages over present systems in some combination of cost, passive safety, proliferation resistance, sustainability, and used fuel disposition.

We note at the outset that there is overlap in the work of the four subcommittees of NEAC: Fuel Cycle, Infrastructure, International, and Reactor. The Fuel Cycle – Reactor coupling is clear. However, the other two subcommittees are critical because the nuclear RD&D infrastructure in the US has decayed badly because of a lack of funds to keep it up, and that will limit what can be done on both fuel cycles and reactors. Likewise, because the U.S. and the international community are interested in the same set of options for the future, there is an opportunity for new kinds of international collaborations to reduce costs and speed progress for all.