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Nuclear Science and Engineering

Fuel Cycle Systems Analysis

Enabling the Future of Nuclear

One of the objectives within the Nuclear Energy R&D Roadmap of the U.S. Department of Energy is to develop sustainable nuclear fuel cycles. In support of achieving this objective, an Evaluation and Screening of nuclear fuel cycle options [Wigeland et al., 2014] was conducted to inform on the prioritization of nuclear fuel cycle R&D activities so that time, effort, and budget can be utilized in the most effective way. The study determined that the most beneficial future fuel cycle, in terms of waste management and resource utilization, compared to the current once-through cycle in the U.S. is one in which fissile materials are continuously recycled in fast spectrum reactors. Argonne was a significant contributor to that study and continues to play a leading role in determining how the U.S. can transition its current nuclear fleet and fuel cycle infrastructure to these more promising fuel cycles. This involves utilizing dynamic and agent-based systems and economics models to determine the different pathways, material and fuel cycle infrastructure requirements, technological and economic challenges, and policy-related issues for these potential future transition scenarios. Codes that Argonne has developed to help conduct these studies include DYMOND for time-dependent fuel cycle systems analysis, REBUS for reactor-based fuel cycle material flows, NE-COST for levelized costs, and ACCERT for capital cost estimates.


  • E. Hoffman, B. Feng, B. Betzler, E. Davidson, and A. Worrall, Technology Characteristics of Transitions to Solid-Fueled and Molten-Salt Fast Reactor Fleets,” GLOBAL 2019, Seattle, WA, September 22-26 (2019).
  • T. Taiwo, B. Feng, E. Hoffman, T.K. Kim, and B. Dixon, Lessons Learned from Recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Scenario Studies,” 15IEMPT, Manchester, UK, September 30 – October 3 (2018).
  • B. Feng, B. Dixon, E. Sunny, A. Cuadra, J. Jacobson, N. Brown, J. Powers, A. Worrall, S. Passerini, and R. Gregg, Standardized Verification of Fuel Cycle Modeling,” Annals of Nuclear Energy, 94, 300-312 (2016).
  • R. Wigeland, T. Taiwo, H. Ludewig, M. Todosow, W. Halsey, J. Gehin, R. Jubin, J. Buelt, S. Stockinger, K. Jenni, B. Oakley, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation and Screening – Final Report,” FCRD-FCO-2014-000106, INL/EXT-14-31465, Idaho National Laboratory, October 7, 2014.
Example time-dependent mass flow outputs from fuel cycle transition analyses involving DYMOND.