The Nuclear Fuel Cycle

  • Edward C. MorseEmail author
Part of the Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)


Vast amounts of ore are mined to produce usable stocks of uranium due to the low concentration of uranium in the ores. The worldwide distribution of uranium ore is discussed. Next, the steps in preparing this material for processing in enrichment plants are described. Enrichment technologies, including gaseous diffusion, centrifuges, electromagnetic separation, and laser isotope separation, are described. The concept of the Separative Work Unit, or SWU, is introduced, and the mass balance calculations for an enrichment cascade are given. The proliferation potential for each of these schemes is described. Reactors are used to make plutonium, and the features making reactor types attractive or unattractive for weapon-grade plutonium production are described. Conversion of military material to civilian use is discussed, and proliferation risks in the waste stream are assessed.


Gaseous Diffusion Fuel Cycle Spend Fuel Isotope Separation Uranium Hexafluoride 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Anderson OE, White HE (1947) Hyperfine structure and the nuclear spin of \(\text{U}^{235}\). Phys Rev 71:911–911. doi: 10.1103/PhysRev.71.911 Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bernstein J (2007) Where Those Reactors and Centrifuges Came From. The New York Times.
  3. 3.
    Director General I (2004) Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Republic of Korea. also at
  4. 4.
    Dowsett S (2013) Spain seizes valves bound for iran’s nuclear program: ministry. Reuters.
  5. 5.
    International Atomic Energy Agency (1991) Consolidatad report on the first two IAEA inspections under Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) of Iraqi nuclear capabilities.
  6. 6.
    Kemp RS (2009) Gas centrifuge theory and development: a review of U.S. programs. Sci Global Secur 17:119. doi: 10.1080/08929880802335816 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    OECD (2010) Uranium 2009 Resources, Production and Demand. OECD NEA Publication 6891Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Olander DR (1981) The theory of uranium enrichment bythe gas centrifuge. Progr Nucl Energy 8:1–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Parkins WE (2005) The uranium bomb, the calutron, and the space-charge problem. Phys Today 58. doi: 10.1063/1.1995747 Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Project Alpha, Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London: Fluval Spain S. L. (March 2–13).
  11. 11.
    Smyth HD (1945) Atomic energy for military purposes 17(4), 351–471. doi: 10.1103/RevModPhys.17.351. Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2008) Uranium enrichment processes directed self-study course module 5.0: Electromagnetic separation (calutron) and thermal diffusion.
  13. 13.
    U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (1955) Information Report: The Development of an Ultra-Centrifuge at the Nuclear Institute of Manfred von Ardenne in Sinop. Accessed 01 Nov 2015
  14. 14.
  15. 15.
    World Nuclear Association (2014) Safeguards to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation.
  16. 16.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nuclear EngineeringUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations