Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in reprocessing nuclear fuel, potentially opening up a new channel for meeting the nation’s energy demands, state media reported. Technology developed by China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) is capable of boosting the usage rate of uranium materials at nuclear plants by 60 times. A report on CCTV on Monday said this means that the country’s detected uranium resources – which total more than 170,000 tons – will last for 3,000 years. Several European nations as well as Russia, India and Japan reprocess nuclear fuel by separating out unused uranium and plutonium, but the methods are a closely guarded secret. China has 12 nuclear power plants in operation and a further 25 reactors under construction. Beijing wants to increase its nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2020, by which time annual uranium demand is expected to reach 20,000 tons, according to the World Nuclear Association. However, the country will only be able to produce 2,400 tons of uranium per year by then.
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