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.
Approximately 100 tonnes of fuel had accumulated at the site by 1994 when the research programme came to an end.
Some of this material exists in the form of “spent fuel”. These are elements that have been irradiated in a reactor but not reprocessed to separate the unused fuel from the waste. Other fuel is unirradiated.
A small amount belongs to foreign operators and arrangements were made for this to be returned. Most of it 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 the NDA's fuel will be managed in future.
The fuel stock can be divided into three categories:
- Dounreay Fast Reactor breeder
- Exotic fuel and nuclear materials
- Natural and depleted uranic materials
This section of the website contains more information about these fuels, the decision-making process and their return to national stocks.
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