Definitions for "Nuclear fuel cycle"
The set of chemical and physical operations needed to prepare nuclear material for use in reactors and to dispose of or recycle the material after its removal from the reactor. Existing fuel cycles begin with uranium as the natural resource and create plutonium as a by-product. Some future fuel sysles may rely on thorium and produce the fissionable isotope uranium-233.
The steps necessary to use uranium to produce electricity. These include mining and milling uranium, converting the uranium to a fuel-form, using the uranium as reactor fuel, and disposing of the waste.
The nuclear fuel cycle consists of the following stages: mining and extraction of uranium from ore for AGR and PWR fuel, enrichment of the uranium (ie. increasing the content of the US235 isotape) for Magnox, fabrication of the fuel as metal rods clad in Magnox alloy cans, or for AGRs and PWRs, as ceramic uranium dioxide pellets contained in stainless steel and Zircalloy tubes respectively use of the fuel in the power station reactor to raise steam for electricity generation removal, cooling and storage of the spent fuel for Magnox and some AGT fuel, reprocessing of the spent fuel to separate radioactive waste (about 4 per cent) from the reusable uranium and plutonium and concentrate the waste for some AGR fuel and all PWR fuel, long term storage eventual disposal and isolation of the spent fuel and/or arising radioactive wastes in a deep repository.