ANSTO is the home of Australia's nuclear expertise. As the operator of Australia's only nuclear reactor, we address key scientific questions in the nuclear fuel cycle for both the current generation of nuclear reactors and future systems. The nuclear fuel cycle begins with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste.
The nuclear fuel cycle encompasses all activities associated with the use of uranium for operating research reactors and nuclear power generation.
It starts with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste. There is also the optionality of reprocessing used fuel to separate out the waste from the unused uranium which can be refabricated into MOX fuel for reuse.
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 completed its lifecycle in a reactor the used fuel may undergo a further series of steps including temporary storage, reprocessing, and recycling before wastes are disposed of temporarily or permanently. Together these steps are known as the 'back end' of the fuel cycle.