New uranium supply vs reprocessed uranium fuel

Posted in the Nuclear Energy Forum

Viciam

London, UK

#1 Dec 26, 2012
Do you think that uranium miners are under threat because the demand for uranium might be fulfilled from reprocessing existing inventory of fuel. I mean why would nuclear power utilities buy new uranium when they can reprocess existing fuel?

Or

Does the reprocessing process mean that only a certain small percentage of the spent fuel can be re-used, meaning that new uranium would still be needed?

Thanks
Dan

Upton, NY

#2 Dec 27, 2012
Viciam wrote:
Do you think that uranium miners are under threat because the demand for uranium might be fulfilled from reprocessing existing inventory of fuel. I mean why would nuclear power utilities buy new uranium when they can reprocess existing fuel?
Or
Does the reprocessing process mean that only a certain small percentage of the spent fuel can be re-used, meaning that new uranium would still be needed?
Thanks
Most power reactors are only 4 to 8 maybe as high as 10% enriched U-235 which is the fissionable isotope used for the chain reaction. The remaining fuel is U-238 which absorbs a neutron and beta decays to Pu-239 also fissionable this is what is removed when fuel is processed and is blended with U-235 to make a Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel that can then be used in a conventional reactor. One of the main reasons the US does not reprocess fuel is because of the potential for weapons proliferation. Personnally I believe that is hogwash but I don't get to make the decision. Here is a good link that describes the Pu-239 production process along with several other isotopes of Pu created in a reactor. Hope this helps!
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf15.html
Viciam

London, UK

#3 Dec 27, 2012
Hi,

Thanks for the reply.

I guess what I'm trying to find out is that the uranium which has already been mined can be used over and over again, So there is no need to mine more uranium as the existing stockpile is sufficient enough to keep the reactors going, right or have I got this wrong?

The uranium which is reprocessed to be re-used as reactor fuel needs to be topped up with new supply or is the recycled fuel enough that it can just be recycled over and over again without the power utility companies having to order from uranium from the miners.

Thanks again
Dan

Upton, NY

#4 Dec 28, 2012
Viciam wrote:
Hi,
Thanks for the reply.
I guess what I'm trying to find out is that the uranium which has already been mined can be used over and over again, So there is no need to mine more uranium as the existing stockpile is sufficient enough to keep the reactors going, right or have I got this wrong?
The uranium which is reprocessed to be re-used as reactor fuel needs to be topped up with new supply or is the recycled fuel enough that it can just be recycled over and over again without the power utility companies having to order from uranium from the miners.
Thanks again
The amount of U-235 that is recovered is minmal and far less than the Pu-239 that is produced in the fuel and recoverable, both can be used as a fuel but would have to be blended with new Uranium fuel to supply the current fleet of US reactors.
Viciam

London, UK

#5 Dec 29, 2012
Right.

Any idea of how much percentage the minimal fuel is? and how much of new uranium would be needed?

Many thanks for your help.
Dan

Upton, NY

#6 Dec 31, 2012
Viciam wrote:
Right.
Any idea of how much percentage the minimal fuel is? and how much of new uranium would be needed?
Many thanks for your help.
Sorry, I don't know those numbers

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