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Nuclear fuels

Nuclear fuel consists of a fissionable isotope, such as uranium-235, which must be present in sufficient quantity to provide a self-sustaining chain reaction. In the United States, uranium ores contain from 0.05–0.3% of the uranium oxide U 3 O 8 ; the uranium in the ore is about 99.3% nonfissionable U-238 with only 0.7% fissionable U-235. Nuclear reactors require a fuel with a higher concentration of U-235 than is found in nature; it is normally enriched to have about 5% of uranium mass as U-235. At this concentration, it is not possible to achieve the supercritical mass necessary for a nuclear explosion. Uranium can be enriched by gaseous diffusion (the only method currently used in the US), using a gas centrifuge, or by laser separation.

In the gaseous diffusion enrichment plant where U-235 fuel is prepared, UF 6 (uranium hexafluoride) gas at low pressure moves through barriers that have holes just barely large enough for UF 6 to pass through. The slightly lighter 235 UF 6 molecules diffuse through the barrier slightly faster than the heavier 238 UF 6 molecules. This process is repeated through hundreds of barriers, gradually increasing the concentration of 235 UF 6 to the level needed by the nuclear reactor. The basis for this process, Graham’s law, is described in the chapter on gases. The enriched UF 6 gas is collected, cooled until it solidifies, and then taken to a fabrication facility where it is made into fuel assemblies. Each fuel assembly consists of fuel rods that contain many thimble-sized, ceramic-encased, enriched uranium (usually UO 2 ) fuel pellets. Modern nuclear reactors may contain as many as 10 million fuel pellets. The amount of energy in each of these pellets is equal to that in almost a ton of coal or 150 gallons of oil.

Nuclear moderators

Neutrons produced by nuclear reactions move too fast to cause fission (refer back to [link] ). They must first be slowed to be absorbed by the fuel and produce additional nuclear reactions. A nuclear moderator    is a substance that slows the neutrons to a speed that is low enough to cause fission. Early reactors used high-purity graphite as a moderator. Modern reactors in the US exclusively use heavy water ( 1 2 H 2 O ) or light water (ordinary H 2 O), whereas some reactors in other countries use other materials, such as carbon dioxide, beryllium, or graphite.

Reactor coolants

A nuclear reactor coolant    is used to carry the heat produced by the fission reaction to an external boiler and turbine, where it is transformed into electricity. Two overlapping coolant loops are often used; this counteracts the transfer of radioactivity from the reactor to the primary coolant loop. All nuclear power plants in the US use water as a coolant. Other coolants include molten sodium, lead, a lead-bismuth mixture, or molten salts.

Control rods

Nuclear reactors use control rods ( [link] ) to control the fission rate of the nuclear fuel by adjusting the number of slow neutrons present to keep the rate of the chain reaction at a safe level. Control rods are made of boron, cadmium, hafnium, or other elements that are able to absorb neutrons. Boron-10, for example, absorbs neutrons by a reaction that produces lithium-7 and alpha particles:

Questions & Answers

what is chemistry?
Archie Reply
forms of biotechnology
Ocheme Reply
What is a mole?
Henry Reply
pls give me 3 type of transition metal
Destiny Reply
Copper, Scandium, Vanadium, Iron, Chromium, Cobalt
ion zinc hydrogen
that is not true
stop posting foolishness
how do I name compounds
Stanley Reply
depends on the compound. as you may know there's transition metal compounds and there's organic compounds and so on and so forth.
what is electricity
Lorrita Reply
electricity refers to the flow electrons
Hi. please can you tell me more on chemical equation
Gift Reply
When 1 or 2 chemicals react, they rearrange their atomic composition forming new compounds. The total mass before and after is the same/ constant. Chemical equations of same reactants react in same ratios e.g. 1 Na ion reacts with 1 water molecule or a multipier like 1 mole of Na ions react with 1
Mole of water molecules. In that example we multipied by 6.02*10^23 or avogadro constant (L). Or 2 Na+ ions with two water molecules. The arrow means '' to form '' Some times conditions or reactants are written above the arrow like H+ or enzyme or temper, sometimes physical states are written
Beside the chemical Aqueous (aq) which means solute dissolved on water. Solid (s) etc Some chemical equations are written next to it ΔH= # which means enthalpy change which describes if the reaction is endothermic (+) or exothermic (-).
Some are reversible and have half double arrow sign.
what is the meaning of atoma
Ibrahim Reply
what is theory
Michael Reply
what is chemical compound
A compound is the result of chemical bonding between 2 or more different elements.
Why is an atom electrically neutral?
the same number of electron , proton present in an atom.thats why it is electrically neutral
difference between Amine and amide
Amadu Reply
what is the difference between alkanal and alkanone
difference between alkanol and alkanal
you are not well at all
is organic compounds used for drying agent
Olawale Reply
Sulfuric acid is used as a drying agent.
what is an atom
John Reply
An atom is the smallest part of an element, for instance gold atoms are the smallest part of gold that can enter a reaction. An atom must consist protons and electrons of equal number. You can think of those subatomic particles as spheres, but not orbiting randomly they move in specific way in
That was partially described mathematically. As a muslim, we believe that god created all matter from nothing. He is the Able, and only who can create matter in the begging in the big bang that was described in the Quran in chapter 17 verse 30, 1400 years ago, you can read it from internet.
what is electron affinity
do you have a private jet
what is acid
Olubodun Reply
Proton donor (H+). Like in lemons, oranges and some medicines.
what is titration? and how can i get my readings?
favor Reply
what is electrolysis?
favor Reply
what is the formula you use when calculating for gas law?
electro-means electricity while lysis-means splitting up so electrolysis simply means splitting up by means of electric current
good day. how may I see previous question asked in this chat, please?
Asha, A person named Favor asked what is meant by the term electrolysis

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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