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Nuclear Fuel Production Fissile Nuclei Uranium and Plutonium 235 U 239 Pu Uranium Two isotopes 99.3% 238 U not useful for energy production 0.7% 235 U useful for energy production For a nuclear reactor: Need 4% 235 U For a fission bomb: Need 90% 235 U

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uranium
Uranium

Two isotopes

99.3% 238U not useful for energy production

0.7% 235U useful for energy production

For a nuclear reactor: Need 4% 235U

For a fission bomb: Need 90% 235U

producing uranium fuel
Producing Uranium Fuel

U ore contains small amounts of UO2 and UO3.

Step 1. Oxidize UO2 to UO3

Step 2. Solubilize U by reacting with H2SO4

UO3(s) + 2 H+(aq)  UO22+(solid salt) + H2O(l)

UO22+(solid salt) + 3 SO42-(aq)  UO2(SO4)34-(aq)

Key: Uranium is solubilized and is leached out of the rock.

slide8

Step 3. More Reactions, eventually to yield UO3.

2R3N + H2SO4(R3NH)2SO4

2 (R3NH)2SO4 + UO2(SO4)34-(R3NH)4UO2(SO4)3 (aq) + 2SO42- (aq)

(R3NH)4UO2(SO4)3 + 2(NH4)2SO44R3N + (NH4)4UO2(SO4)3 + 2H2SO4

2NH3+ 2UO2(SO4)34- (aq) (NH4)2U2O7 (s) + 4SO42- (aq)

(NH4)2U2O7 (s)  U3O8(s) + H2O(l) + NH3(g)

U3O8is then reacted to make pure UO3.

Key: UO3 formed is pure.

step 4 formation of uf 6
Step 4. Formation of UF6

UO3(s) + H2(g) ====> UO2(s) + H2O

UO2(s) + 4HF(g) ====> UF4(s) + 2H2O(l)

UF4(s) + F2(g) ====> UF6(l or g)

Key: UF6 has a boiling point near 50 oC.

slide11

Efficiencies:

diffusion = 1.002/stage

Final Fraction = 0.7 x (1.002)#cycles

gas centrifuge: 1.2/stage

Final Fraction = 0.7 x (1.2)#cycles

slide12

Plutonium Fuel:

Made inside Uranium Nuclear Reactors

Fast neutron reactors

(Also called fast breeder reactors)