Nuclear fuel production, rotor compressor

Nuclear fuel production, rotor compressor

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Caption: Nuclear fuel production. Worker repairing a rotor compressor for gas diffusion machinery in a uranium enrichment factory. Uranium consists of two natural isotopes: mostly U-238 and less than 1 percent U-235. The U-235 needs to be increased to around 3-5 percent of the overall mixture to make a controlled nuclear fission reaction feasible. Here, the enrichment is carried out by gas diffusion by heating solid uranium hexafluoride (UF6). The UF6 molecules containing U-235 are lighter and diffuse faster through the pipelines and filters, producing a UF6 gas that is enriched with U-235. After cooling and solidifying, the enriched UF6 is used to make fuel for nuclear power stations. This is Eurodif's George Besse factory near Tricastin, France. Photographed in 2004.

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