What is Nuclear fuel: Definition and 32 Discussions

Nuclear fuel is material used in nuclear power stations to produce heat to power turbines. Heat is created when nuclear fuel undergoes nuclear fission.
Most nuclear fuels contain heavy fissile actinide elements that are capable of undergoing and sustaining nuclear fission. The three most relevant fissile isotopes are uranium-233, uranium-235 and plutonium-239. When the unstable nuclei of these atoms are hit by a slow-moving neutron, they split, creating two daughter nuclei and two or three more neutrons. These neutrons then go on to split more nuclei. This creates a self-sustaining chain reaction that is controlled in a nuclear reactor, or uncontrolled in a nuclear weapon.
The processes involved in mining, refining, purifying, using, and disposing of nuclear fuel are collectively known as the nuclear fuel cycle.
Not all types of nuclear fuels create power from nuclear fission; plutonium-238 and some other elements are used to produce small amounts of nuclear power by radioactive decay in radioisotope thermoelectric generators and other types of atomic batteries.
Nuclear fuel has the highest energy density of all practical fuel sources.

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  1. L

    Are spent nuclear fuel rods radioactive?

    Are spent fuel rods radioactive and are the spent fuel rods cooling pools discharging radioactive water (tritium) into the environment?
  2. mark_bose

    Searching for a single and complete resource about nuclear fuels

    Hello, I am looking for a comprehensive resource (paper, book or any kind of document) that contains the most relevant properties of most nuclear fuels. To be more specific, the information i am looking for are thermophysical properties, chemical compatibility with other materials and...
  3. A

    Coolant Mass Flow Rate Through Subchannel in Nuclear Fuel Assembly

    I am trying to find the mass flow rate of coolant through a channel within a hexagonal nuclear fuel assembly. I am given the specific heat of the fluid, the coolant inlet and outlet temperatures, the total power produced by a single fuel pin, the diameter of the fuel pin, the length of the fuel...
  4. S

    Can Spent Nuclear Fuel Be Used as an Alternate Heat Source?

    Hi, I have some questions about nuclear fuel, I hope I could get some direction here. Firstly, based on research I've done it appears that spent fuel rods come out of the reactor around 5000 F, is this true? Secondly, if the previous statement is true how does the water in the fuel pool not get...
  5. A

    Heat Transfer Through Cylindrical Nuclear Fuel Pin

    Let's say we have a cylindrical fuel pin with fissile material in the middle, followed by a gas gap and cladding material. It is being cooled by water on the outside. The temperature drop through the fissile material should be parabolic due to heat generation, and the temperature drops through...
  6. J

    Can Someone Explain How Nuclear Fuel Rods Heat Water in a Reactor?

    Hi, I haven't studied much nuclear physics and would be very grateful if someone could answer a few basic questions I had about fission in the fuel rods on how the water is actually heated in the reactor core: 1) I don't know if I have this correct but is it that the way the water is heated in...
  7. Y

    Nuclear fuel cycle boc eoc boec eoec?

    Hello everyone! I have my first question in physics forum... When I read some reports I found those terms that can not be understood... 'BOC', 'EOC', 'BOEC', 'EOEC'... BOC and EOC are used frequently and I know those terms shortly but not exactly... but I can understand boec and eoec and...
  8. F

    Physics Which is the job of a physicist in a nuclear central?

    Hi everyone! I'm near to get a physics degree. Always like me nuclear physics, how can energy be obtained by a little cuantity of matter... I want to ask you,if you know, which is the work/tasks of a physicist in a nuclear central (if they can work there :) ). I would like to be more...
  9. J

    Calculating Free Energy in Nuclear Fuel Reactions

    Homework Statement Calculate how much free energy in 1kg of nuclear fuel, assuming the most common reaction at a nuclear plant is 235U + n ---> 139Ba + 86Kr + 11n + 176 mev Homework Equations E= mc2 ? 1mol of 235U = 16.5 KJ The Attempt at a Solution Do I need to balance the equation? How...
  10. Goldberg

    Calculating Mass Percent in UO2 Nuclear Fuel

    Homework Statement Hello guys, I was using mcnp code SERPENT, and while defining materials i encountered a problem. The problem is that for example: if I'm given that i have a 3.5 percent enriched U-235. how do i find the rest of the mass percents of U-234, U-238, O2. Now since i know mass...
  11. P

    Gap Conduction in Nuclear Fuel rod Performance Codes

    Hi, everyone! I'm doing a research in gap conduction calculation models in popular nuclear fuel performance codes. I want to make a sensitive analysis in their behaviors, but unfortunately, I just have access to FRAPCON package. is there anyone who can help me to gather some of the codes...
  12. Arubi Bushlee

    B So, is the polywell a promising concept for achieving aneutronic fusion?

    has anyone looked into the possibility of nuclear fusion without neutrons? it would make IEC fusion easier without all the neutrons running around making things radioactive and wearing them down. I am wondering if p-B11 (proton-boron11) fusion is really an aneutronic fuel. deuterium-Helium3...
  13. E

    Disposition of Pu240 in Spent/Used Nuclear Fuel

    I just finished an article on the implications of separating Pu-240 from SNF. The implications are pissvly huge, but the article does not consider the technical issues for laser separation. I am familiar with the concept of resonance laser ionization. I am not aware of any real initiative that...
  14. AlbeFerS

    Finding UO2 Enrichment Value for MCNP5 Input File

    Hi there, I´m just finishing an input file for MCNP5 and I can´t find a value of density for UO2 enriched to 3,25% - 3,6%. Does anyone know it or know where I can find it? Thanks in advance! (P.D.: wikipedia is not my friend... )
  15. H

    Is Beryllium a Viable Nuclear Fuel Option?

    4Be8 + 0n1 → 3Li7 +2 0n1 Can we use above reaction for the production of neutrons? Is it possible to obtain a sustainable chain reaction when using Be as fuel?
  16. G

    About nuclear fuel cycle simulation software

    Hello ,everybody I plan to develop a nuclear fuel cycle simulation software . Is there any body interesting it. I think this is a very complex project. :)
  17. N

    Time dependent surface temperature of a nuclear fuel rod

    I was wondering if anyone has any actual data on the surface temperature of a fuel rod as a function of time. I am really curious as I am trying out a model I found which uses the fractional calculus. Or if anyone could point in the right direction to find said data that would be great as well.
  18. E

    Thorium alternative to nuclear fuel

    http://www.ted.com/talks/kirk_sorensen_thorium_an_alternative_nuclear_fuel.html I was impressed by the video; but I was left thinking "What are the downsides?" and "so why haven't we done this already?" - and as such I feel like there's something missing here. Could anyone with more...
  19. J

    Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools not dry in 4?

    I am just a finance guy, but I've been reading up on the current crisis and found this blog. Anyone here thing this guy might actually be correct in his assumptions? http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2011/03/focus-on-food-water-shelter-dr-greg.html
  20. S

    Beta or Alpha emitter nuclear fuel cycle?

    Do exist some proposed nuclear fuel cycle in which uranium or thorium whoud be first converted in some beta or alpha emitting isotope and after energy whould be harnessed with direct energy conversion methods?Possibly, it could reduce size of power plant and make steam turbine unnecessary.
  21. R

    Is Nuclear Propulsion for Civilian Maritime Vessels a Security Risk?

    Investigate the potential for the use of a nuclear fuel source for aircraft propulsion: If anybody have related document and ideas please post it
  22. E

    What is environmental impact for mining, processing nuclear fuel?

    The month long debacle over the BP oil spill, and earlier collapse of a coal mine killing scores of coal miners, makes me wonder: what are the risk to human safety and environmental impact for mining, processing nuclear fuel (i.e uranium, thorium) ? Could acquiring nuclear fuel lead to a...
  23. P

    How much nuclear fuel is in a nuclear sub?

    How much fissile material, in kilograms, would, say, an Ohio-class submarine carry? If it's classified, what would be about a good estimate?

    MOX (Plutonium-Uranium mixed Oxide) Nuclear Fuel

    Hello all, I just read an article in POWER magazine for this month (January 2010) that Japan is now operating a MOX-fueled reactor. In this article it is stated that MOX-fuel usage should be about 5% globally this year. Is that statement accurate given the small number of facilites that...
  25. P

    Resources for deep understanding about nuclear fuel materials

    Hello,everybody! I'm a PhD candidate from xi'an jiaotong university,china. There is an urgent need to make a deep understanding about the microstructure evolution of nuclear fuel materials under irradiation. To make my research more close to the frontiers, your suggestions are welcomed. I've...
  26. D

    Reprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel

    I hear a lot of talk about the law from teh 70's passed by Congress that forbade the reprocessing of commercial SNF. In my Radioactive Waste Management class today, the professor (who is a CHP/PE who specializes in waste management) said it was actually Carter, not Congress (which means, I...
  27. D

    How long will our Nuclear Fuel resources Last?

    The other day I took note of the fact that the U.S. does not recycle its spent nuclear fuel. This struck me as very wasteful. Could it be recycled at some later date? Will we run out of Uranium in 50 years, or can we simply dig deeper into the Earth to get more? There must be a large amount...
  28. D

    Is nuclear fuel safe for space missions?

    is there technology to use nuclear fuel for space rockets? what could be the fastest and cheapest way to transport 100000000 kg from Earth to mars? can fission be an alternative? help!
  29. vincentm

    [stars] Nuclear Fuel usage rate

    At which rate do Stars burn there fuel, I know there are different stars (giants,dwarfs etc...) For instance i read that our sun fuses 655million tons of Hydrogen into 650 million tons of Helium. The other 5 million is converted into 400 million watts of energy in the process. How did they...
  30. A

    Nuclear fuel resources: Enough to last?

    http://www.nea.fr/html/pub/newsletter/2002/20-2-Nuclear_fuel_resources.pdf Also som interesting articles here: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/info.htm
  31. J

    Why Uranium? Exploring Nuclear Fuel Alternatives

    Why do we not use a nuclear fuel instead of uranium that decays into stable elements? Why do we use uranium?