Los Alamos Women in Science
Northern Chapter of the New Mexico Network for Women in Science and Engineering
sponsored by the
Synergy Center
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Bldg 1, Los Alamos Research Park
Synergy Center Conference Room, 3rd flr
Talk at 12:00

Lorna A. Greening, Economist  and  Erich A. Schneider, D-3, LANL
The U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Legacy and the Sustainability of Nuclear Power

Nuclear generation capacity currently accounts for roughly 20% of annual electricity generation in the US. Following recent operating successes (>90% plant availability, lower production costs), nuclear generation is gaining attention as an option that maintains reliability and security of supply while mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. As a result, regulators are favorably responding to some requests for license extensions for existing nuclear generation capacity as well as additions of new capacity. However, before increased nuclear generation becomes a viable option in the US, issues surrounding the disposal of spent nuclear fuel (both existing and future accumulations) need to be addressed.

Within the framework of a widely-used US energy system model (MARKAL), the market viability of the nuclear option is assessed under hypotheses tied to the availability of nuclear waste disposal facilities. These hypotheses vary the rate at which waste disposal capacity may be brought online as well as the cost of building and operating that capacity. It is seen that the once-through fuel cycle as currently practiced could continue to support nuclear generation at or above its current market share by mid-century only when an optimistic set of assumptions tied to waste disposal is imposed. Under more stringent conditions, nuclear power can only gain market share in the long term if a closed fuel cycle entailing transmutation of plutonium and other actinides is adopted. A transmuting nuclear economy could reduce the long-term heat load borne by a repository by orders of magnitude, increasing the effective capacity of a repository to store nuclear wastes, and reduce levels of plutonium and other hazardous actinides present in disposed nuclear fuel. Earlier deployment of the requisite infrastructure - a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility - maximizes this benefit. Ancillary benefits of early development of such a facility include lowered costs for hydrogen production, and an earlier entry into a hydrogen-based economy.

A copy of a paper on this subject and a full description of the MARKAL framework used in this analysis can be found in the Fourth Quarter, 2003 issue of the IAEE Newsletter.  See http://www.iaee.org/documents/03fall.pdf, page 12-19.

Dr. Greening has over 25 years experience in the energy industry, including experience in consulting, research, academia, the public utility industry, and the petroleum industry (exploration geologist). She is an energy and natural resource economist with technical expertise on domestic and international energy supply and demand, air and water quality, and energy and environmental regulation. Her experience includes projects for the US DOE, US EPA, USAID, EIA, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and private clients. From this work, she has published in such journals as Energy Economics, Energy Policy, Environmental Modeling and Assessment, Energy - the International Journal, Journal of Regulatory Economics, and Applied Economics. She has served on several high level US Federal Government advisory panels (e.g., EIA Advisory Panel on the Analysis of the Kyoto Protocol), participated in two IPCC Assessments, and performed similar service activities. Dr. Greening received her PhD from the Colorado School of Mines (Mineral Economics) in 1992, and her BS (Geology) from the University of Michigan in 1972. Dr. Greening can be reached at LGDoone@aol.com.

Dr. Schneider is a technical staff member in D-3 (Systems Engineering and Integration) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In that capacity, he has performed work on nuclear reactor physics and integrated nuclear fuel cycle analyses for next-generation reactor designs, and contributed to the development of dynamic event-driven computational tools for autonomous fuel cycle simulation. Prior to coming to LANL, he taught engineering and mathematics courses at Cornell University. He has also worked as a consultant for Cogema, Inc., where he analyzed the economic ramifications of options concerning the nuclear fuel cycle. Dr. Schneider has published on the simulation of the technical aspects and the economics of the nuclear fuel cycle. Dr. Schneider received his PhD from Cornell University (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics) in 2002, following an MS (Nuclear Science and Engineering) and BS (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), both from Cornell University.

Members and Nonmembers Welcome!
Open to the Public

The room is reserved from 11:30 to 1:30 so people to can get together and network before and/or after the talk. Bring your lunch or pick up something at the Hot Rocks Java Cafe on the 2nd floor. You are welcome to come early, late, or for just the talk at noon, and questions are encouraged!

LunchTalk Location

Synergy Center Conference Room, 3rd floor, Bldg 1,
Los Alamos Research Park, 4200 West Jemez Road.

Use of the conference room was donated by the Synergy Center, an "economic development incubator" located in the Los Alamos Research Park with the goal of promoting development of R&D and technology business activities. Contact Aurelia Sisneros, 663-5001, for more information on the Synergy Center.

You need a parking pass to park at the Research Park!
click here for detailed directions, map with Bldg 1 highlighted, and information on obtaining a parking permit




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