Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
as plutonium are known as
breeder reactors .
Other types of reactor
fuel also exist, and two of
them will probably get more
and more attention in the
future. One is called MOX,
which stands for Mixed
OXide. MOX is a mixture
of the substances uranium
oxide and plutonium oxide.
To make MOX, plutonium
from spent (used) reactor fuel
and from weapons is mixed
with uranium oxide. Some
countries have used MOX fuel
for years. The second fuel is thorium -232, or Th-232. Thorium
is abundant on Earth. Th-232 does not undergo i ssion, but it
does something else that is important. When a Th-232 nucleus
captures a neutron, it produces an isotope of uranium known
as U-233. U-233 is i ssionable, so Th-232 could be used in a
breeder reactor to make U-233.
In Their
Own Words
“The discovery of nuclear
chain reactions need
not bring about the
destruction of mankind
any more than did the
discovery of matches. We
only must do everything
in our power to safeguard
against its abuse.”
Scientist Albert Einstein, 1953
Different Types of Reactors
There are a number of different kinds of nuclear reactors. U.S.
power stations today use just two. One, called the pressurized
water reactor , is the most common type of nuclear reactor in
the world. The other type of power reactor found in the United
States is the boiling water reactor . Both types use uranium
oxide fuel. Both usually surround the core with several walls
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