BEIJING, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- China says it has developed the technology to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and use the recycled material to keep nuclear power plants going.
The breakthrough will have major implications for China as it moves from its historic dependence on coal to an ambitious program of building a number of nuclear power stations, the BBC reported Monday.
Reprocessing nuclear fuel is a complex and costly procedure that Chinese researchers reportedly have spent 24 years perfecting, but will allow China to diversify its energy sources.
China is not alone in developing reprocessing facilities, as France, Britain and India already have their own operations.
But reprocessing will have a major impact for China. The country's state television says China currently has enough known uranium for at most 70 years of supply, but with the new reprocessing process that existing supply could last 3,000 years.