Much study has been put into the concept of a multinational or international “nuclear fuel bank,” and in 2010 two such banks became a reality according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. However, all of the conceptual studies along with the two IAEA-approved banks are not really “fuel” banks; rather they are low-enriched uranium (LEU) reserves. While uranium is a commodity, fuel for a nuclear reactor is a highly-engineered product of which uranium is a component.
It has been argued that because there are more fuel fabricators than enrichers, the enrichment step is the crux of a supply assurance mechanism. This is a gross oversimplification. If one cannot get from LEU to a fabricated fuel assembly, then the fuel supply assurance is not available. There are issues of fuel design, core physics, regulation, intellectual property, and liabilities that could preclude fuel fabrication and delivery in a timely manner. These issues and obstacles will be discussed along with some suggestions about how they might be overcome to provide real fuel assurances.
Dr. Alan Hanson was appointed as Executive Vice President, Technologies and Used Fuel Management of AREVA NC Inc. in 2005. In this position he was responsible for all of AREVA’s activities in the backend of the nuclear fuel cycle in the U.S. Prior to that he served as President and CEO of Transnuclear, Inc., also an AREVA company, which he joined in 1985. Transnuclear designs, licenses and supplies dry storage casks; more than half of the casks in the U.S. have been supplied by Transnuclear.
In January of 2011, Dr. Hanson started a year-long assignment as a Visiting Scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University on loan from AREVA. At CISAC he conducts research on the worldwide nuclear supply chain and international fuel assurance mechanisms.
Dr. Hanson began his career in 1975 with the Nuclear Services Division of Yankee Atomic Electric Company. In 1979, he joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. At the IAEA, he served first as Coordinator of the International Spent Fuel Management Program and later as Policy Analyst with responsibilities in the areas of safeguards and non-proliferation policies.
Alan Hanson received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1969 and earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977. He also is a recipient of a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) degree from Georgetown University in 2009. He is a member of the American Nuclear Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.