South Korea has recently jointed the GNEP and participated in a recent GNEP steering meeting held during December in Vienna, Austria. As was the case for Canada's recent entry into GNEP, Korea's is also accompanied by some interesting news.
As reported by the Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology has announced an investment of 3 to 4 trillion Won (~ AUD 3.7 to 4.9 Billion) in the next year to transform Korea into a technological leader in the field of advanced nuclear fuel cycles including the next generation fast reactor and pyroprocessing. The investment above includes monies from non-government sources.
Specifically Korea is looking to develop sodium cooled fast reactor (SFR) technology - with an eye on an increasingly lucrative export market.
The report includes a rough schedule
- 2011 - Initial design work for the SFR should be completed,
- 2012 - A mock-up testing facility to check the feasibility of the recycling of pyroprocess fuel is to be built,
- 2025 - A semi-commercial facility to actually make fuel for SFRs to be completed and
- 2025 - Detailed blueprints on the reactor to be finished.
The source of the article has highlighted the scalability of the SFR reactor technology [ranging from 50 to 1,500 MWe], their lower temperature and pressure operation [improved safety] and also the non-proliferation advantages and shorter decay periods [400 - 500 years] associated with pyroprocess based fuel recycling.
Also mentioned is the system integrated modular advanced reactor [SMART] capable of generating electricity as well as desalinating sea water. The first SMART reactor is due on the street within a decade.
UIC - Fast Reactor Page
WNA - Processing of used nuclear fuel for recycle