How is uranium made into nuclear fuel?

Uranium is a naturally-occurring element in the Earth's crust. It is extracted from the rock in which it is found, enriched in the uranium-235 isotope, and formed into pellets that are then loaded into assemblies of nuclear fuel rods.


How does a nuclear reactor make electricity?

Nuclear power is generated by the controlled release of energy from splitting the atoms of uranium. Except for the reactor itself, a nuclear power station works like most coal or gas-fired power stations.


What are nuclear wastes and how are they managed?

Nuclear power does not produce any significant wastes which are dispersed to the environment - instead they are retained within the plant and managed for the long term.


Electricity generation - what are the options?

Nuclear energy provides electricity without producing large amounts of carbon emissions, as is the case with fossil fuels. Nuclear generation is amongst the most cost-effective ways of generating electricity and provides long term certainty over electricity costs.

Electricity supplied by nuclear energy

In 2017 the world's nuclear reactors supplied 2506 TWh of electricity (2506 billion kilowatt hours). This represents around 10% of global electricity consumption.

Greenhouse gas emissions avoided

There are many different electrical generation methods, each having advantages and disadvantages with respect to operational cost, environmental impact, and other factors. Generating electricity from fossil fuels results in greenhouse gas emissions an order of magnitude higher than when using nuclear or renewable generation.

What other things can nuclear technology be used for?

Nuclear technology is not just used to supply electricity to the grid; it is in a wide variety of other uses such as medicine, heating and space travel.

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy travelling through space. At high levels it is hazardous, but at low levels such as we all experience naturally, it is harmless. Furthermore, many people owe their lives and health to such radiation produced artificially. Medical and dental X-rays discern hidden problems while other kinds of ionising radiation are used to diagnose ailments, and some people are treated with radiation to cure disease. Ionising radiation such as occurs from uranium ores and nuclear wastes is part of our human environment, and always has been so

The nuclear industry

The nuclear industry is a global enterprise, and comprises many diverse participants from individuals to companies, industry associations to United Nations and other inter-governmental bodies, and also appointed bodies responsible to national governments.

Global number of nuclear reactors

Number of nuclear reactors operable and under construction: Details of individual reactors operable and under construction can be found in our Nuclear Reactor Database, which uses information supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.


A comprehensive list of terms which are commonly used in discussion of nuclear power, the uranium industry and the nuclear fuel cycle.