In order to efficiently produce fuel for the fourth generation of nuclear power, the nuclear waste from today's nuclear power must be reprocessed. The fissionable material that still has a lot of energy to give, including plutonium, is separated out to become new fuel. The problem is that nuclear weapons can also be made from the same plutonium.

Pure plutonium

One solution lies in sorting out more topics in the process.

- We make it impossible to get pure streams of plutonium by mixing it with the other heavy substances in the nuclear waste, and then it cannot be used for weapons, says Professor Teodora Retegan Vollmer, professor of nuclear chemistry at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg .

Generation-four is based on the use of all heavy nuclear substances contained in the nuclear waste. These are substances that today's reactors cannot extract energy from, such as americium, curium, neptunium but also uranium-238.

Poorer characteristics

The presence of these substances causes the fuel to have significantly worse properties than nuclear weapons. In addition, the fuel becomes much more radioactive and this makes it more difficult to handle in the bomb production.


A rapid expansion of the fourth generation of nuclear power demands the control systems that exist today to prevent nuclear proliferation.

- In the fourth generation of nuclear power systems, nuclear control will be a challenge as generation-four consists of many different systems and they differ from today's nuclear power, says Sophie Grape, nuclear physicist at Uppsala University.

She researches nuclear control and develops techniques used in the controls that all nuclear power plants must undergo.

“It is important that all nuclear power countries build up control authorities that ensure that operations are safe and that nuclear waste does not go astray,” she says.

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