Nuclear fuel: types and processing

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Nuclear Power consists of a large number of companies for different purposes.Raw materials for the industry is produced from uranium mines.Once it is delivered to the company for the production of fuel.

further fuel transported to the nuclear power plants, where it enters the reactor core.When nuclear fuel work out his term, it is processed.Waste recycling must be disposed.It should be noted that hazardous waste is not only appear after reprocessing, but also at any stage - from uranium mining to reactor operation.

Nuclear Fuel Fuel is of two kinds.First - a uranium produced in mines, respectively, of natural origin.It comprises a raw material which is capable of forming plutonium.The second - the fuel, which is created artificially (secondary).

nuclear fuel is also divided on the chemical composition: metal, oxide, carbide, nitride and mixed.

uranium mining and fuel production

large proportion of uranium mining accounts for only a few countries: Russia, France, Australia, USA, Canada and South Africa.

Uranus - a basic element for fuel in nuclear power plants.To get to the reactor, it goes through several processing stages.Most often, uranium deposits are located near the gold and copper, so its production is carried out with the extraction of precious metals.

on developing the health of people exposed to great danger, because the uranium - toxic material, and gases that arise in the course of its production, causing various forms of cancer.Although most ore contained a very small amount of Uranium - from 0.1 to 1 percent.It is also exposed to a high risk of the population living near the uranium mines.

enriched uranium - the main fuel for nuclear power plants, but after using it is a huge amount of radioactive waste.Despite all its dangers, uranium enrichment is an essential process of creating nuclear fuel.

In the natural form of uranium is almost impossible to apply anywhere.To use, it must be enriched.To enrich the gas centrifuges used.

Enriched uranium is used not only in the nuclear industry, but also in the production of weapons.


At any stage of the fuel cycle have transportation.It is carried out in all possible ways: by land, sea, air.It's a big risk and a big threat not only to the environment but also for humans.

during the transport of nuclear fuel and its components takes place a lot of accidents, which result in the release of radioactive elements.This is one of many reasons why nuclear energy is considered unsafe.

output fails reactors

None of the reactors is not dismantled.Even the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant.The thing is that experts estimate the price of dismantling equals or even exceeds the price of construction of a new reactor.But no one can accurately say how many resources you will need: The value is calculated on the experience of dismantling the small stations for the study.Experts suggest two options:

  1. Put reactors and spent nuclear fuel in the repository.
  2. go out of the system over the operation of the reactor sarcophagus.

In the next ten years, about 350 reactors around the world have outlived their usefulness and should be put out of action.But as the most appropriate safety and price method does not come up, it is a question still being decided.

Now worldwide 436 working reactors.Certainly, it is a great contribution to the grid, but it is very unsafe.Studies show that in 15-20 years will be able to replace nuclear power stations that run on wind and solar.

Nuclear waste

huge amount of nuclear waste generated by the activities of nuclear power plants.Processing of nuclear fuel and leaves behind hazardous waste.At the same time none of the countries has not found a solution.

Today, nuclear waste contained in temporary storage, in a pool of water or are buried deep under the ground.

most secure way - is stored in a special storage, but here, too, could leak radiation, as well as in other ways.

In fact, nuclear waste have some value, but requires strict adherence to the rules of their storage.And this is the most acute problem.

important factor is the time during which the hazardous waste.Every radioactive substance-life decay, during which it is toxic.

Types of nuclear waste

When using any of its nuclear power plant waste into the environment.This cooling water turbines and waste gases.

Nuclear waste is divided into three categories:

  1. low level - wear NPP personnel, laboratory equipment.Such waste can come from medical institutions, research laboratories.They do not represent a great danger, but require compliance with safety measures.
  2. Intermediate level - the metal container, which was carrying fuel.The radiation level is high enough of them, and those who are close to them, must be protected.
  3. high level - it's spent nuclear fuel and its products.The level of radioactivity decreases rapidly.High-level waste is very small, about 3 per cent, but they comprise 95 percent of the total radioactivity.