Reducing radioactive waste and making it less radiotoxic: transmutation
Transmutation can offer another solution, in addition to deep disposal, for high-level radioactive waste. Transmutation is a process in which the long-lived radioactive elements in waste are converted by fission to shorter-lived particles that produce radiation for a much shorter period and are less radiotoxic. Transmutation can therefore greatly reduce the amount and radiotoxicity of high-level radioactive waste. This decreases the necessary storage time from several hundred thousand years to less than 1000 years
.Following the development of MYRRHA
, SCK•CEN has become a front runner in the development of this promising technique
, i.e. transmutation using an accelerator driven nuclear system
. Such an installation permits as much as half the reactor core to be loaded with high-level radioactive waste, which makes it possible to process the waste efficiently. MYRRHA itself will not process nuclear waste on an industrial scale, but provides opportunities to continue testing and refining the technology.