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Reactor fuel elements - fabrication and experience

: Schulze, J.

International Conference on Democratization of a Society and Military Security <1992, Moskow>
Fraunhofer INT ()
fission material; Kernbrennstoff; Kernwaffe; MOX; nuclear weapons; Plutonium; reactor fuel; spaltbares Material

The content of fissile material in 30000 nuclear warheads is estimated to about 1000 t Uranium 235 and 100 t Plutonium 239. Converting the Uranium to reactor fuel is neither difficult nor dangerous. Main problem is Plutonium. Most of the american nuclear scientists propose disposal or storage whereas european scientists prefer burning in a light water reactor as MOX fuel (MOX=Mixed Oxide of PuO2 and UO2). MOX-technique has been developed in Germany, Belgium and France in order to burn reprocessed Plutonium by partly substituting Uranium 235 in power reactor fuel. At present in Germany about 1.5 t Plutonium per year is processed to MOX fuel, in Belgium 1.2 t and in France 0.5 t. Further MOX plants in Germany, France, Japan and Great Britain are under construction. In 1966 Germany started developing MOX fuel elements. Today 10 power reactors are licensed to use MOX fuel elements up to one third of the reactor inventory.