Non-power applications of nuclear energy

Nuttall, William and Neighbour, Gareth (2020). Non-power applications of nuclear energy. In: Nian, Victor ed. Advanced Security and Safeguarding in the Nuclear Power Industry: State of the Art and Future Challenges. Academic Press.



A brief description of non-power applications of nuclear power is covered in the context of its historical relationship to military nuclear technology developments and the late twentieth-century expansion of commercial nuclear power production. Looking to the future, some potentially attractive non-power commercial opportunities are described. A wide range of civil nuclear non-power applications are noted including district heating, medical therapies and desalination. Within this context issues of socio-technical and economic risk are explored with reference to security, safeguards and security. The benefits of international collaboration to date and the consequential frameworks that have arisen are noted. It is also observed that, over time, there has been a changing perception of risk and an evolution of risk management thinking. For example, a question is raised on the appropriateness of the threshold for the definition of HEU. An observation is made concerning how closely coupled non-power uses of nuclear energy will be to power generation technologies. The authors further note developing private activity in areas that were once confined to state actors. Furthermore, they observe that significant future developments are likely to be the result of the global drive towards deep decarbonization. That policy imperative has the potential to provide a major impetus to non-power applications of nuclear energy. It will be important that any such future progress maintains and enhances safety and security.

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