Even under the call for solutions to climate change and alternative energy sources to meet increasing energy demands, the imminent “nuclear renaissance” is debated by those who want to know the final destination of spent nuclear fuel. One of the alternatives to direct storage of spent fuel in a geological repository includes partial to full fuel reprocessing such that fission products such as actinides can be removed, as well as the recycling of plutonium and uranium into mixed oxide fuel (MOX). With the anticipated construction of ‘new build’ nuclear power plants (NPPs), as well as the continued operation of the existing fleet, we anticipate that the inventory of spent fuel destined for storage in Yucca Mountain (or similar) will continue to grow. Thus the U.S. DOE is promoting a sensible consideration of reprocessing, burning MOX in existing and near-terms LWRs and continuing R&D on sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFRs) for their eventual commercial introduction. However, countries that have chosen to reprocess are facing high costs and lingering political opposition, while others who have chosen not to reprocess equally face opposition to licensing and operating an adequate federal repository. This research continues ongoing research by the authors on existing and planned realization of NPPs and the associated fuel cycle. That is, we have to date developed models of the construction and decommissioning of NPPs in the U.S., developed an associated model that includes construction of reprocessing facilities, and finally, accounts for the mass flow within the partially closed fuel cycle. From early on, we included the gradual introduction of MOX-burning LWRs and SFRs into the existing and anticipated LWR fleet over the next 100 years. All models were created using Vensim, a software tool that facilitates development, analysis and compartmentalization of dynamic processes with feedback models. Our model has been benchmarked against the MIT and U. Chicago reports on the future of nuclear energy. The current work presents cost estimates and uncertainties assigned to the mass flow model to evaluate the cost of NPP-based electricity generation, with and without a fuel reprocessing. Preliminary results demonstrate that the high cost of reprocessing can be offset by the larger expense of having to construct ‘multiple’ Yucca Mountain-type repositories, under current NPP growth forecasts and insistence of the once-through fuel cycle. Details and results on various, sensible scenarios will be presented.

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