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Outline of Nuclear Fuel Cycle1
(Light Water Reactors)

  1. uranium ore is mined

  2. uranium ore is milled

  3. concentrated uranium is converted to a chemical form suitable for enrichment

  4. enrichment takes place in gaseous diffusion plants and the enriched product is converted to a chemical form suitable for fuel

  5. fuel is fabricated

  6. fuel is used in power plant

  7. spent fuel is removed annually from power plant and stored

  8. in some countries, but not in the United States, commercial spent fuel is shipped to a reprocessing plant and reprocessed to recycle usable uranium, with recovered uranium shipped to an enrichment plant or to storage

  9. in some countries high-level waste is treated for disposal, solidified, packaged, and shipped to repositories (low-level radioactive wasdtes are packaged and shipped for burial)

1 Chart reprinted, with modifications, from Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C.