Methods of Advanced Waste Treatment (MeAWaT)

Scope of project

This project is following up the work on the microwave internal gelation process and investigation of the use of carbide sphere-pac fuel in sodium cooled fast reactors including the integration into the fuel cycle. The focus of this project is on inherent safe reactor systems with the main purpose of minor actinide incineration for nuclear waste conditioning. Because of its major advantages for the production of fuel containing minor actinides, the microwave internal gelation is a good process, and the sphere-pac is an expedient fuel-form for such future reactor systems. Possible reactor concepts considered are metal and gas cooled critical- and subcritical-fast reactors (e.g. sodium cooled fast reactor, accelerator driven systems, ...). A gas cooled variant with silicon carbide cladding and an innovative pin design is seen as the most innovative and promising perspective. For a maximal safety, the focus of the fuel matrix is changed from carbide to oxide. Regarding the fuel fabrication an integration of the newly developed production method (PINE) into a glove-box, for the production of fuel containing uranium, plutonium and neptunium (as a minor actinide representative), is planned. This also includes a new sintering method, based on the same microwave unit, in order to further lower the processing temperatures and therefore vapour losses of minor actinides, as well as reducing the number of process components. The new project shall therefore study the following aspects:
  • Development of new pin-design for enhanced thermal conduction of the oxide sphere-pac fuel, compatible with metal and gas cooling
  • Thermo-hydraulic and neutronic modelling of new fuel element
  • Integration of production into a sealed environment (glove box) for the use of nuclear materials including a microwave based sintering unit. Research of minor actinide fuel production (U, Pu, Np, Am, and Cm, the latter two only from theoretical point of view)


Dr. Manuel Pouchon, PSI
Telephone: +41 56 310 2245