Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The nuclear fuel cycle is defined as the activities carried out to produce energy from nuclear fuel. These activities include, but are not limited to, mining of uranium-containing ores, enrichment of uranium to fuel grade specifications, fabrication and use of fuel rods, and isolation and storage of waste produced from power plants. The nuclear fuel cycle is shown in Figure 11.22.2. Note that commercial fuel reprocessing, currently practiced in Europe, was discontinued in the United States in 1972 for safety and security reasons. The Department of Energy (DOE), however, does reprocess most of its spent fuels (U.S. DOE 1988).

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