DAEJEON, Oct. 19 (Korea Bizwire) – The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has announced it will offer 45 kilograms of low-enriched uranium-molybdenum concentrate powder to Kyoto University over the next two years for research purposes, according to a statement released Wednesday.
The uranium-molybdenum (U-Mo) nuclear fuel powder developed by researchers at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute will be used at Kyoto University Critical Assembly, as the institute is part of the U.S. government’s initiative to encourage the use of low-enriched uranium to stop global nuclear proliferation.
According to the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, its researchers are the first in the world to successfully turn U-Mo into nuclear fuel.
South Korea, along with the U.S., France and Belgium, agreed on a joint project to develop U-Mo nuclear fuel, a type of low-enriched uranium with a 20 percent lower concentration rate, during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul.
After the summit, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute received 110 kilograms of low-enriched uranium nuclear fuel from the U.S., and turned it into 100 kilograms of U-Mo nuclear fuel powder using a spray drying powder production method, some of which was then sent back to the U.S. as well as given to Belgium.
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute is the first in the world to develop a method during which uranium alloys are melted at 1,600 Celsius degrees and then placed onto a high-speed rotating plate to solidify the substance into fine powder.
U-Mo fuel powder is thought to have a uranium density per unit volume up to twice as high as uranium-silicon fuel, making the best use of low-enriched uranium.
Through the Heracles consortium, which was established with the intention of encouraging the use of low-enriched uranium in member states including France, Belgium and Germany, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute is expected to provide more of the U-Mo nuclear fuel powder.
“With our internationally-renowned original technology, we’ll contribute to the reduction of high-enriched uranium. Through the commercialization of U-Mo nuclear powder, we plan to branch out into the international nuclear powder for research market that is worth 200 million dollars every year,” said Ha Jae-joo, the director of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.