Net Zero Compare

Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle refers to the series of industrial processes which involve the production of electricity from uranium in nuclear power reactors. It encompasses everything from the mining of uranium, its enrichment, and fabrication into nuclear fuel, to its eventual disposal or reprocessing. This cycle is critical for sustaining the operation of nuclear power plants and ensuring a continuous supply of energy.

In detail, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle begins with the extraction and milling of uranium ore, which is then processed and enriched to increase the concentration of uranium-235. The enriched uranium is fabricated into fuel rods or assemblies, which are then used in nuclear reactors to generate power through nuclear fission. Once the fuel has been used to the point where it is no longer efficient for power generation, it becomes spent nuclear fuel.

The spent fuel can either be treated as waste and disposed of in deep geological repositories, or it can be reprocessed to extract usable elements for new fuel. This reprocessing can significantly reduce the volume of high-level radioactive waste and make the overall process more sustainable. The closing stages of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle also involve the management of radioactive waste to minimize its environmental impact, ensuring both energy security and environmental stewardship.