Friday, 21 June 2024

Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal and Reprocessing Market is expected to reach US$ 7,174.1 million by 2030

Published: Friday, 08 Dec 2023 by The Insight Partners Share on :

Importance of Automation in Sorting and Segregation of Spent Nuclear Fuel Management

According to our latest market study on " Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal and Reprocessing Market Forecast to 2030 –Global Analysis – by Reactor Type, Disposal Type, and Waste Management Type" the market is expected to grow from US$ 6,783.0 million in 2022 to US$ 7,174.1 million by 2030. It is expected to fuel at a CAGR of 0.7% from 2022 to 2030.

Spent nuclear fuel management in the nuclear industry requires different approaches depending on the level of radioactivity or danger. Due to the complex and unique nature of waste items, this generally requires a high level of operator involvement, from decision-making to the physical movement of the waste. Spent nuclear fuel management can involve a range of protective equipment, from coveralls and gloves to air-fed suits. These operations carry inherent risks due to interaction with radioactive materials and other conventional risks associated with manual handling and aging infrastructure. For example, in addition to the radioactivity of dust and asbestos, decommissioning waste often also requires special control measures. It is a hot, uncomfortable, and physically demanding work environment that significantly impacts productivity. 

Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal and Reprocessing Market Share — by Region, 2022

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Source: The Insight Partners Analysis

Hence, automating nuclear waste management offers increased efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness. Advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) systems can handle hazardous tasks, reducing human exposure to radiation and minimizing the risk of accidents during waste handling. For instance, in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster case in 2011, robots were employed to access areas that were considered dangerous for humans, thereby aiding in cleanup efforts. Automated systems can also optimize waste processing, ensuring precise sorting and disposal, which is crucial in minimizing the environmental impact of nuclear waste. With the implementation of the automation of nuclear waste management, human safety is enhanced, along with accelerating the overall cleanup process, making it indispensable in dealing with radioactive materials. Thus, the rising use of automation in sorting and segregation of nuclear waste management fuels the market growth.

In the UK, 4.9 million tonnes of nuclear waste from the country's nuclear power plants remain in temporary storage - the most significant and complex environmental cleanup task in Europe. The UK government and academic community are engaged in the development of robotic solutions needed to deal with nuclear waste generated in the country. This project is being carried out under the auspices of the National Center for Nuclear Robotics, a consortium of research centers and universities such as the University of Birmingham Extreme Robotics Lab, the University of the West of England, the University of Lincoln, the University of Essex and the Lancaster University, Queen Mary University London, University of Bristol, and the University of Edinburgh. The work is carried out in a coordinated manner across several departments in order to create innovations quickly and effectively. At Essex University, researchers are focusing on developing new image-processing algorithms to help robots perform localization, mapping, and sensing tasks in nuclear environments.

In addition, the disposal of spent fuel resulting from nuclear energy production is a crucial issue for the sustainable development of nuclear energy. While spent fuel reprocessing was historic the preferred strategy for the back end of the fuel cycle, some in recent decades Countries have turned to other options. Some countries have introduced a direct policy for disposal or storage strategy, partly in response to concerns such as nuclear weapons distribution, public acceptance, and economics. A key reason for choosing the reprocessing option was the efficient use of Uranium resources. The plutonium obtained through reprocessing can be recycled into LWRs mixed oxide fuel (MOX), which replaces an almost equivalent amount of enriched uranium and thus, it avoids the need for extensive mining and enrichment operations.

Currently, Russia, France, India, Japan, and China are engaged in the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants. Advantages of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing include minimizing the need for fresh uranium fuel, reduction in nuclear fuel waste volume, and economical advantage by reuse of nuclear fuel which in turn is expected to drive the growth of the spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing market in this region. In addition, reprocessing facilities in France had reprocessed spent nuclear fuel for other countries including Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy which in turn is expected to boost the dominance of country in spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing.

Asia-Pacific spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing market analysis is classified into China, Japan, India, South Korea, and the Rest of Asia-Pacific. The region generated nuclear power from 148 operable nuclear reactors in 2022, with China accounting for 37.16% of the nuclear reactor share in the region, followed by Japan and South Korea. The Asia-Pacific region faces unique challenges in managing spent nuclear fuel waste due to its diverse mix of nuclear power programs and differing approaches. Many countries rely on on-site storage of spent fuel, using cooling pools or dry cask storage systems. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, India, China, and Taiwan have faced heightened scrutiny and public opposition to nuclear fuel cycle management in the wake of nuclear accidents, waste disposal, and seismic risks. 

Japan, for instance, had planned to establish repositories, but these have faced setbacks and public resistance. South Korea has been exploring potential deep geological repositories, while Taiwan is considering interim storage facilities. China, as a major nuclear power, is actively researching long-term disposal and reprocessing methods, including geological repositories. Moreover, construction of reprocessing facilities in China is expected to drive the spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing market growth in the country. India is in the early stages of developing its repository plans. The Asia-Pacific region is working to address the challenges of securing and safely managing spent nuclear fuel waste while navigating complex regulatory, environmental, and public engagement issues to ensure the long-term safety of these materials.

Augean Plc, Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc., Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB, Ansaldo Energia, Orano Group, Veolia Environmental Services, Bechtel Corporation, EnergySolutions, BHI Energy, and Waste Control Specialists, LLC are among the key spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing market players profiled during this study. In addition, several other important spent nuclear fuel disposal and reprocessing market players have been studied and analyzed during the study to get a holistic view of the spent nuclear fuel cycle analysis & management and its ecosystem.

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