For an efficient utilisation of natural uranium and thorium resources with minimum impact on environment, Indian nuclear scientists have to evolve improved flow sheets for the recovery of uranium from 'lean' sources, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Friday.
Although Indian nuclear power programme is successfully competing in the energy market and making lots of money, "the challenge to recover uranium from 'lean' primary ore still continues and we need to evolve improved flow sheets to get maximum," he said while addressing the three-day symposium on 'Emerging trends in separation science and technology', which began on Friday at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.
The improved flow sheets are also to be enhanced for qualitative recovery of Plutonium from a variety of spent fuels emanating from research and power reactors and quantitative recovery of U-233 (an isotope of uranium) from irradiated thorium, Kakodkar said.
"Spent fuel solution is a very complex chemical mixture and the recovery of valuables from this mixture is a challenge to the Radio chemists and nuclear technologists," he said.
"Few batches of irradiated mixed carbide fuels emanated from fast breedrer test reactor have been reprocessed successfully and that would suggest the maturity of our separation programme even in the back end of fuel cycle."
"Such an approach will not only generate wealth from waste but will also ease the disposal of High Level Liquid Waste (HLLW)," he said adding successful implementation of the scheme will go a long way to assure the public of the environmentally safe and relatively benign nature of nuclear energy.