​​CBR Case Studies

Economic Impacts of Irradiated High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel Management

​Laura L. Price, Elena Kalinina, and Cathy Ottinger Farnum


Commercial nuclear power plants typically use nuclear fuel that is enriched to less than five weight percent in the isotope 235U. However, recently several vendors have proposed new nuclear power plant designs that would use fuel with 235U enrichments between five weight percent and 19.75 weight percent. Nuclear fuel with this level of 235U enrichment is known as “high assay low-enriched uranium.” Once it has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor and becomes used (or spent) nuclear fuel, it will be stored, transported, and disposed of. However, irradiated high assay low-enriched uranium differs from typical irradiated nuclear fuel in several ways, and these differences may have economic effects on its storage, transport, and disposal, compared to typical irradiated nuclear fuel. This report describes those differences and qualitatively discusses their potential economic effects on storage, transport, and disposal.