China Discovers Nuclear Fuel Breakthrough

New technology allows for re-use of irradiated nuclear fuel

Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in nuclear fuel reprocessing technology that could effectively end any uranium supply concerns, state media reported on Jan. 3.

The technology developed by state-run China National Nuclear Corp enables the country to re-use irradiated nuclear fuel, China Central Television said.

"China's proven uranium sources will last only 50 to 70 years, but this now changes to 3,000 years," said the report.

The development would be an important step forward in China's plans to increase the share of alternative power sources in its energy mix to reduce pollution and achieve energy security.

It has stepped up investment in nuclear power in an effort to slash carbon emissions and reduce the nation's heavy reliance on polluting coal, which accounts for 70% of its power needs.

China, now the world's second-largest economy after surpassing Japan in 2010, aims to get 15% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

China aims to increase nuclear power capacity to 70-80 gigawatts by 2020, accounting for about 5% of the country's total installed power capacity, state press reports have said.

The government said previously the target was 40 gigawatts.

China currently produces around 750 tons of uranium a year but annual demand could rise to 20,000 tons a year by 2020 as it boosts nuclear power output, the China Daily newspaper has said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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