Nuclear Energy

How does scientists create nuclear fuels?

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2011-05-20 07:27:10
2011-05-20 07:27:10
  1. Uranium ore (usually black oxide) is mined.
  2. Uranium ore is shipped to Mill.
  3. Mill separates Uranium from ore and converts black oxide to yellow oxide (yellowcake).
  4. Yellowcake is shipped to Enrichment plant.
  5. Preprocessing plant converts yellowcake to Uranium Hexafluoride (the only Uranium compound that is a gas near room temperature, but also corrosive to almost every metal except nickel and explosive in contact with either water or oil!!!)
  6. Enrichment plant enriches the Uranium in the Uranium Hexafluoride gas from 0.72% Uranium-235 (natural level) to 3% Uranium-235 (power reactor fuel level)
  7. Postprocessing plant converts enriched Uranium Hexafluoride to enriched yellowcake.
  8. Yellowcake is shipped to fuel pellet Canning plant.
  9. Canning plant cans yellowcake in Zirconium alloy fuel pellet cans.
  10. Fuel pellets are shipped to fuel rod Assembly plant.
  11. Assembly plant inserts fuel pellets into steel fuel rod tubes.
  12. Fuel rods are shipped to Reactor.
  13. Fuel rods are inserted in Reactor as needed.

This is the basic outline from mine to a water moderated & cooled reactor. There are many additional minor steps along the way. For other reactor designs (e.g. metal cooled fast breeder reactor, gas cooled high temperature graphite moderated pebble bed reactor, liquid metal fueled reactor) several of the basic steps themselves will have to change.

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