Conventional nuclear fuel for reactors

Publication date: 
28 May, 2000

Nuclear fuel is fabricated from natural uranium imported from overseas by BNFL who operate a fuel fabrication plant at Springfields near Preston and a uranium enrichment plant at Capenhurst in Cheshire. Natural uranium is composed largely of two elements Uranium 235 (U-235) and Uranium 238 (U-238). Whilst this is suitable for making fuel for Britain's ageing Magnox reactors, it has to be enriched before it can made into fuel for the newer advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGRs). The enrichment process entails removing, via a series of centrifuges, some of the U-238 which is less fissionable, thereby increasing the proportion of the more fissionable U-235 and thus enriching it. AGR fuel will normally be enriched to between 3% and 5%...

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