Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The nuclear fuel cycle is the series of industrial processes which involve the production of electricity from uranium in nuclear power reactors.

Uranium must be processed before it can be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor. After fuel has reached the end of its useful life and removed from a reactor, it can be reprocessed to produce new fuel.

The cycle starts with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste. 

To prepare uranium for use in a nuclear reactor, it undergoes the steps of mining and milling, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication. These steps make up the 'front end' of the nuclear fuel cycle.

After uranium has spent about three years in a reactor to produce electricity, the used fuel may undergo a further series of steps including temporary storage, reprocessing, and recycling before wastes are disposed. Collectively these steps are known as the 'back end' of the fuel cycle.

Further information on the various steps of the nuclear fuel cycle can be found at