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Most of the commercial nuclear power reactors in the world today require uranium 'enriched' in the U-235 isotope for their fuel. The commercial process employed for this enrichment involves gaseous uranium hexafluoride in centrifuges.
Following many years of construction, Iran's first nuclear power reactor started up in 2011. Two further large Russian-designed units are planned, the first of which commenced construction in November 2019. The country also has a major programme developing uranium enrichment,...
The basic fuel for a nuclear power reactor is uranium. Uranium occurs naturally in the Earth's crust and is mildly radioactive. Depleted uranium is a by-product from uranium enrichment.
Uranium is the main fuel for nuclear reactors, and it can be found in many places around the world. In order to make the fuel, uranium is mined and goes through refining and enrichment before being loaded into a nuclear reactor.
Nuclear Proliferation Case Studies: Iran, North Korea & Iraq - Implications for Safeguards; also South Africa, Israel, Syria and Libya.
Prior to enrichment, uranium oxide must be converted to a fluoride so that it can be processed as a gas, at low temperature. Conversion plants are operating commercially in Canada, France, Russia and China. A US plant is closed but expected to restart in 2023.
A major increase in uranium mine production is planned. There is increasing international involvement in parts of Russia's fuel cycle. Exports are a major Russian policy and economic objective.  
Weapons-grade uranium and plutonium is being made available for use as civil fuel. Highly-enriched uranium from weapons stockpiles met about 13% of world reactor requirements through to 2013.
Production from world uranium mines has in recent years supplied 90% of the requirements of power utilities. Primary production from mines is supplemented by secondary supplies, principally by ex-military material.
Fuel fabrication is the final stage in nuclear fuel preparation prior to use in a reactor. Nuclear fuel assemblies are specifically designed for particular types of reactors and are made to exacting standards.
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