A look at the future

The current fuel cycle exploits, with current reactors, just a small part of the energy that can be extracted from uranium found in mines and leaves a legacy of waste that has to be confined for long periods of time. It is obvious that, to truly close the cycle and to fully exploit the potential of the nuclear fuel available in nature, it is necessary to have not only thermal reactors with high burning rates but also “fast” type reactors, where neutrons do not undergo a slowing process to kick-start the fission reaction. These reactors are capable of exploiting much better the fuel found in nature with a totally different production of waste, a lot less problematic compared to current reactors.
At the current rhythm of nuclear energy production uranium resources translate into a 65-year energy availability with current reactor consumption equal to 66.000 tons/year. However the exploitation of Estimated Additional Resources of the second group (EAR-II) would guarantee energy for another 260 years without any retreatment process. Considering also the Speculative Resources and neglecting the uranium contained in the oceans there would be another 360 years of energy production available.
Currently the supply of uranium is based for 50-60% of the total on extraction from mines, while the rest derives from:

  • stock of natural uranium and/or enriched uranium of civil or military origin. In the previous years more uranium than necessary has been extracted: this has caused a build-up of the element, partly due to a limited development of nuclear energy production compared to what was expected;
  • reprocessing of exhausted fuel;
  • use of U-235 of military origin, which derives from the dismantling of nuclear warheads.

 

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • energy

    Nuclear reactors under construction

    Look

    energy

    Major uranium producing countries in 2019

    Look

    energy

    Nuclear planned reactors

    Look
  • energy

    Electricity from fission

    Look

    energy

    Enrico Fermi

    Look

    energy

    Inventor of X-rays

    Look
  • energy

    Nuclear reactor

    Look

    energy

    Uranium

    Look

    energy

    Uranium bar

    Look
  • energy

    Nuclear reactors under construction

    Look

    energy

    Major uranium producing countries in 2019

    Look
  • energy

    Nuclear planned reactors

    Look

    energy

    Electricity from fission

    Look
  • energy

    Enrico Fermi

    Look

    energy

    Inventor of X-rays

    Look
  • energy

    Nuclear reactors under construction

    Look
  • energy

    Major uranium producing countries in 2019

    Look
  • energy

    Nuclear planned reactors

    Look

Facts

  • ITER fusion reactor

    The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste...

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

  • Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

    Geographical distribution of energy

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need. Unfortunately we cannot exploit all this…

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

  • Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

    A hydrogen house

    In Settimo, a municipality close to Turin, the first Unité d’Abitation has been created...

    Hydrogen from biomass

    Hydrogen is an energy carrier that allows to generate energy in an environmentally sustainable way...

  • 16 May 2011

    ITER fusion reactor

    The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste...

    2 March 2011

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

  • Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

    Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

  • Geographical distribution of energy

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need. Unfortunately we cannot exploit all this…

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

  • 16 May 2011

    ITER fusion reactor

    The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste...

  • 2 March 2011

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

  • Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...