Delivering the safe clean-up and demolition of the UK's former centre of fast reactor research on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

Nuclear Fuel

Dounreay’s purpose was to research and develop more efficient ways to generate electricity from uranium and plutonium

A variety of fuel types was tested in reactors and examined over a 40-year period. The used fuel was recycled in chemical plants and the recovered uranium and plutonium turned into new fuel elements.

The knowledge gained from this work about the properties of uranium and plutonium made Dounreay a world-leader in the development of nuclear energy for electricity production.

By 1994, when the UK Government decided Dounreay had served its purpose, the site had accumulated approximately 100 tonnes of uranium and plutonium fuels, much of it in a variety of specialist forms.

Some of this uranium and plutonium exists in the form of “spent fuel”. These are elements that have been irradiated in a reactor but not reprocessed to separate the fuel from the waste. Other fuel is unirradiated.

The fuel today belongs to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, a non-departmental public body of the UK Government, and is a national asset.

Dounreay is closing down, so decisions are being taken about where and how this fuel will be managed in the future.

The fuel stock can be divided into three categories:

This section of the website contains more information about these fuels, the decision-making process and their destination.

See our News Room to read the latest news stories.

See Dounreay TV to view the latest film footage.

 

 

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Image: Uranium in powder form after it has been separated from spent fuel

Uranium in powder form after it has been separated from spent fuel

Image: Archive image of staff getting spent fuel from the prototype fast reactor ready for reprocessing

Archive image of staff getting spent fuel from the prototype fast reactor ready for reprocessing

Image: Fuel elements being manfactured at Dounreay

Fuel elements being manfactured at Dounreay

Image: Dounreay’s fuel plants included facilities where uranium was recovered from the reprocessing of spent fuel

Dounreay's fuel plants included facilities where uranium was recovered from the reprocessing of spent fuel