Russian nuclear engineers plan by the end of 2016 or early 2017 to start tests to study the feasibility of "burning" the highly radioactive element americium in nuclear reactors, Yevgeny Adamov, supervisor of the Proryv (Breakthrough) project, said in an interview with RIA Novosti on 14 October.
During nuclear reactor operation, the fuel accumulates minor actinides - long-lived radioactive isotopes of americium, curium and neptunium – which contribute to the high radioactivity of waste following the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel. One way to dispose of minor actinides is through transmutation – burning these radionuclides in fast neutron reactors. For this it is necessary to work out reprocessing technologies to create new fuel elements containing minor actinides, and intended for transmutation.
This will be tested using the BOR-60 fast research reactor at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors Reactor (NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad, which has already made the necessary fuel elements. The Breakthrough project, based at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s TVEL fuel company) aims to refine technologies for a closed nuclear fuel cycle based on fast reactors.