Category: ENERGY

Uranium Mining

Uranium is a naturally occurring element that is obtained as its oxides from ores in a wide variety of deposits in Earth’s crust. These ores primarily consist of uraninite (UO2) and pitchblende (U2O5 • UO3). The generic uranium oxide that is ultimately used as the feedstock for uranium enrichment (vide infra) is U3O8, often referred […]


The nuclear fuel cycle is the entire process of dealing with nuclear fuel from mining, to refining and enrichment, to use in the reactor, and then reprocessing or disposal of the depleted fuel. If the uranium and plutonium oxides are reprocessed and returned to a reactor as a fuel, the phrase fuel cycle is appropriate. […]

Thorium Reactors

Naturally occurring thorium, atomic mass number 90, exists entirely as Th-232 which is not a fissile material for thermal neutrons. It is, however, fertile: upon neu­tron capture it is converted into U-233 which is fissile (Equation 9.10). 232 1 neutroncapture 233 betadecay 233 0 betadecay 233 0 90 th + 0n——————– > 90 th—————- > […]

Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors

The nuclear power fleet is rapidly aging (the average age is currently thirty years) and many are being shut down or retired for good reasons: they have reached the end of their safe and reliable operating lifetime and electricity produced from natural gas is proving to be tough economic competition. However, this means that more […]

Breeder Reactors

The fast breeder reactor (FBR) is so named because more fissile material is formed than consumed, a feat that can be accomplished if the fragment nuclei are also fis­sile. The breeding ratio is the ratio of fissile material produced to the fissile material consumed; any reactor that achieves a breeding ratio of >1 is characterized […]

Other Types of Nuclear Reactors Heavy Water Reactors Light water reactors are far and away the most common reactors in operation, but the pressurized heavy water reactor (also known as the CANDU reactor for Canadian deuterium uranium) should be noted because it uses heavy water in the role of cool­ant and moderator and, as a result, can make use […]

Conventional Nuclear Power

Electricity from nuclear energy is generated in the same manner as in a coal – fired power plant except that the source of heat for firing the steam-powered tur­bine is from nuclear reactions. Most nuclear power plants in operation today are Type of Reactor Acronym Typical Fuel Coolant Description Lead fast reactor LFR U/Pu nitride […]

Nuclear Reactors

Some of the key components of a nuclear reactor in terms of chemistry are the fuel, the moderator, the control (or poison), and the coolant. • The fuel is any fissionable nucleus; for conventional nuclear power this means an isotope of uranium or plutonium. • The moderator—water, heavy water (D2O), or graphite—is the material within […]