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Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Programs

Nuclear Fuel Cycle

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.

Recent results 

Highlights

Strategic Priorities

  • Researching fuels for nuclear reactors

    Researching fuels for nuclear reactors

    ANSTO conducts research on fuels for current and future nuclear reactors. We focus on increasing understanding of the key properties and behaviour of fuel during its burn-up in a reactor, in particular, addressing areas where there are knowledge gaps.  This includes investigating the properties of inert matrix fuels, accident tolerant fuels, molten salt fuels and cladding.

  • Understanding the behaviour of materials exposed to extreme conditions

    Understanding the behaviour of materials exposed to extreme conditions

    ANSTO researchers undertake studies to investigate the effects of high temperature and radiation damage on structural materials used in nuclear reactors with the aim of increasing their reliability. It includes contributing  to the development of advanced materials for current and future reactors.

  • Understanding the management of spent fuel and associated wasteforms

    Understanding the management of spent fuel and associated wasteforms

    ANSTO undertakes research on the key properties of nuclear waste and its long term interaction with containment materials with the goal of further improving the safety of waste management and storage. It encompasses studies of the structure and behaviour of the actinides and lanthanides.

  • Advising the Australian Government

    Advising the Australian Government

    ANSTO provides advice to the Australian Government on all issues relating to nuclear technology and our services to other stakeholders which includes sharing expertise on nuclear forensics.

Projects

Did you know?

ANSTO operates Australia's only multi-purpose nuclear reactor

Partners

Researchers