Norway, the Scandinavian country that has been at the forefront of renewable energy for decades now, is lending a helping hand to its old ally. Norway’s unused nuclear fuel will be used in Springfields Fuels Limited and converted into new fuel which can power commercial nuclear reactors across Britain.
You may have seen on TV or heard about it through word-of-mouth: this week alone Londoners are enjoying clean air due to Norwegian generosity as Oslo continues their commitment towards sustainable solutions by sending three tonnes of unirradiated uranium (U235) from IFE – The Institute for Energy Technology back home while also extending assistance with other such projects abroad; taking advantage of an agreement previously signed between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Norwegian PM Erna Sol.
The last two research reactors in Norway are now closed.
The Norwegian government has done an admirable job of responsibly closing down the country’s facilities, but this doesn’t diminish their importance to scientific advances that have been made since they were first opened up and funded by NATO back in 1957. The International Atomic Energy Agency is estimated to be operating about 400 nuclear power plants worldwide with more than 450 under construction or planned for future use, meaning there will still plenty of opportunities for those pursuing a career field like engineering as well as physics majors who want work on these important projects. Still, this leftover fuel would otherwise have been disposed of if Norway hadn’t closed its two research reactors.
Nuclear facilities in Germany are being decommissioned, and the cost of clean-up is expected to exceed £1.7 billion pounds. Within two years the IFE estimates that all research reactors will be removed from service with a projected completion date within 20 years – this includes dismantling nuclear power plants for their most hazardous components such as fuel rods and cooling systems before they can be safely disposed or recycled elsewhere.
The raw materials will be taken under SFL’s ownership once it arrives at their plant. It has also been confirmed that this will be used for producing new nuclear fuel, to be used in NPPS, and the agreement made between the countries ensures that the materials may only be used for peaceful purposes and not those that may be damaging.
The Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority needs to approve the transport of this dangerous material, but that process will take a long time. A total of six shipments are expected over two years in order for IFE’s work on exporting nuclear waste from Norway to be done by 2022.