The United States Department of Energy (US DOE) is conducting research and development (R&D) activities within the Used Fuel Disposition Campaign (UFDC) to support storage, transportation, and disposal of used nuclear fuel (UNF) and wastes generated by existing and future nuclear fuel cycles. R&D activities are ongoing at nine national laboratories, and are divided into two major topical areas: (1) storage and transportation research, and (2) disposal research. Storage R&D focuses on closing technical gaps related to extended storage of UNF. For example, uncertainties remain regarding high-burnup nuclear fuel cladding performance following possible hydride reorientation and creep deformation, and also regarding long-term canister integrity. Transportation R&D focuses on ensuring transportability of UNF following extended storage, addressing data gaps regarding nuclear fuel integrity, retrievability, and demonstration of subcriticality. Disposal R&D focuses on identifying multiple viable geologic disposal options and addressing technical challenges for generic disposal concepts in various host media (e.g., mined repositories in salt, clay/shale, and granitic rocks, and deep borehole disposal in crystalline rock). R&D will transition to site-specific challenges as national policy advances. R&D goals at this stage are to increase confidence in the robustness of generic disposal concepts, to reduce generic sources of uncertainty that may impact the viability of disposal concepts, and to develop science and engineering tools that will support the selection, characterization, and ultimately licensing of a repository. The US DOE has also initiated activities that can be conducted within the constraints of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to facilitate the development of an interim storage facility and supporting transportation infrastructure.

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