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. If the material is used once and discarded, the “cycle” is known as a once-through cycle. Some of the more important aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle—focusing on uranium—are covered in the following sections.

Updated: September 25, 2015 — 4:48 pm