The efficient use of fuel by EM2™ means that it generates a fraction of the high-level waste produced by current reactors. In addition, rather than sending spent fuel out for geologic storage, EM2™ is capable of recycling its used fuel once some of the fission products are removed. No liquid reprocessing is necessary, and no heavy metals are separated. Even better, these fission products require only about 500 years of storage before decaying to background levels, compared to 10,000 years or longer required for current designs.
In addition, EM2™; has the potential to reduce our waste stockpile because it can be powered with this spent fuel. Deployed in sufficient numbers, EM2™ is capable of substantially reducing pressures for long-term storage and turning our waste stockpile into an important energy resource.
Because EM2™ uses more of its uranium fuel and converts it more efficiently to energy, it can operate up to 30 years on the same load of fuel. This compares very favorably to the approximately 18-month fuel cycle of a typical light water reactor. This means that fuel handing is greatly reduced. Because refueling occurs so infrequently, equipment needed to access the core would not be stored on site, and opportunities to access the core are virtually eliminated. Even if EM2™ fuel is recycled as discussed above, the recycling process only removes fission products and does not separate out any fissile materials.
GA's ongoing work on EM2™ has been the subject of a number of scientific papers and presentations. A current list of these can be found here.
EM2™ is a trademark and a service mark of General Atomics.