Reiko Fujita
Reduction and Resource Recycling of High-level Radioactive Wastes through Nuclear Transmutation
Program Manager
Reiko Fujita
  • Link to the Program Official HP
1982 Received Ph.D from Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology
1983 Joined Toshiba Corporation (Nuclear Technology Research Laboratory)
2012 – present Chief Engineer, Power and Industrial Systems Research and Development Center, Power Systems Company, Toshiba Corporation
2014 – ImPACT Program Manager
(temporarily transferred to JST from Toshiba) (Effort: 100%)
Profile
A leading figure in the development of pyrochemical reprocessing technologies for the metallic fuel cycle, whose proposals have been selected six times in open competitions held by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for innovative nuclear power systems. Has pursued joint research at institutions that include Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors, Tokyo Tech and The Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry. Recipient of many awards including the Atomic Energy Society of Japan Award for Distinguished Technology in 1995, and the same institution’s Best Paper Award in 1999. Has served as a Director of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan since 2010, and was appointed President in 2014. Doctorate of Science.

What's New

Overview

The high-level radioactive wastes produced when the spent fuel from nuclear power plants is reprocessed must be disposed of through vitrification in glass solid and burial in deep geological layers. As these wastes contain nuclides with a long half-life, public concern remains over the long-term storage of such wastes. There is also a social problem in terms of the difficulty to determine disposal sites for these wastes. The goal of this program is to investigate the nuclear reaction paths for long lived fission products (LLFP), for which disposal in the deep layer has been the only option. The establishment of reasonable nuclear transmutation methods will enable these wastes to be converted into stable nuclides or short-lived ones. I will also make efforts to develop ecological systems for the reuse of the rare metals and other resources that are included in the recovered products.

Disruptive Innovation

Keys to breakthrough

  • To be the first in the world to obtain nuclear reaction data for long-lived fission products, and to confirm the world’s first nuclear reaction path for conversion to short lived nuclides or stable nuclides.

The Challenges for the PM and the Impact of Success

Overview and background

  • The high level radioactive wastes that are produced when spent fuel from nuclear power plants is reprocessed are vitrified in glass solid and disposed of through geological disposal.
    These high level radioactive wastes include long-lived fission products, and the concerns regarding long-term storage have not been removed. As a result, the difficulty in deciding on disposal sites for these wastes is a social issue.
  • The goal is to reduce the burden on future generations resulting from the processing and disposal of high level radioactive wastes, and to recycle the recovered platinum group elements, rare metals and other materials in order to keep a supply of resources without being affected by overseas markets.

Impact on industry and society in the event of achievement

  • The long lived fission products (LLFP) included in high level radioactive wastes will be separation and recovered and then converted through nuclear transmutation into short-lived or stable nuclides.
  • Following nuclear transmutation, platinum group nuclides will be recycled such as automobile catalysts. In addition, through nuclear transmutation, alkali metal and alkaline earth metal elements will be recycled into nuclear medicines, etc. and rare earth elements will be recycled into rare metals in magnetic materials.

Scenario for Success and Achievement Targets

Methods of resolution for success (Approach)

  • In order to propose and confirm optimal nuclear reaction paths, data must be obtained by the most advanced facility using a high-intensity beam + reverse kinetic method. Bulk simulations of nuclear reactions will be conducted based on the data that have been obtained.
  • Technologies for separating even number nuclides from odd number nuclides by lasers nuclear transmutation methods without isotope separation, and methods to control the nuclear reactions will be developed.
  • The team will collaborate with the preceding development groups for minor actinide nuclear transmutation test facilities and propose to develop a practical process concept.

Management strategies

  • There will be integration and collaboration with the most advanced nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.
  • Multiple companies will participate from the initial stages toward with a view to future development.
  • Following (world first data), their engineering application will be promoted rapidly.

Achievement targets

  • A study will be proposed of practical processes for separating long lived nuclides from high level radioactive wastes and wastes vitrified in glass solid, and using nuclear transmutation to convert them to nuclides with a short lived or stable nuclides.

Risks

  • In order to propose nuclear transmutation systems capable of achieving reasonable costs and energy balance, it will be necessary to discover or invent several technologies, including separation and recovery technologies accelerator technologies, and new nuclear reaction control technologies, which will be extremely difficult.

Overall R&D Program Structure Created by the PM

  • The program is composed of the following five projects. Each project consists of multiple research topics.
    Project 1: Development of separation and recovery technologies
    Project 2: Obtained nuclear reaction data & new nuclear reaction control method
    Project 3: Reaction theory modeling and simulation
    Project 4: Evaluation of nuclear transmutation system and development of elemental technologies
    Project 5: Process concept for design
  • The critical path is Project 4. Cooperation with the other projects and change the scientific discovery into engineering deployment.
  • After this program, system development should be continued for the goal of practical implementation such as a pilot plant.

Implementation Structure as Assembled by the PM

Keys of the implementation structure

  • A Project Leader will be assigned to each project. The Project Leader will be involved in the overall operation of the Program under the PM and will make integration and collaboration with the other projects in the progress of research. Several PM Assistants will also be arranged to work under the PM to assist the management of the projects with a cross cutting point of view.

Approach to selection of institutions

  • The advanced research institutes and research institutes with a enough knowledge of the unique theoretical models, simulations, etc. or the advanced facilities needed for the program will be selected in order to achieve the goal.
  • An open competition system will be introduced for the separation and recovery technologies which have been made some progress in research in the field, and for new control systems of nuclear reactions, innovative ideas will be required in order to ensure the overall program concept.
  • The team will collaborate with groups already conducted studies on transmutation of minor actinides.
  • From the beginning of this program, multiple companies will be participated in the prospects of the future implementation of this technology.

Organization

The Cabinet Office
ImPACT: Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program
ImPACT Program Manager
Reiko Fujita
Associate Program Manager
Tsuguyuki Kobayashi
Associate Program Manager
Hiroyuki Ooigawa
Associate Program Manager
Masaki Ozawa