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Lasers Improve Uranium Enrichment

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Barbara Grant

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of the electricity used in the US, but separating uranium isotopes for power generation has been a power-hungry task itself -- until lasers offered a new method. To fuel nuclear reactors, enriched uranium containing between 3 percent and 5 percent of the U-235 isotope must be extracted from uranium oxide that contains natural levels of 0.7 percent U-235. The traditional extraction techniques, gaseous diffusion and gas centrifuge, are inefficient, costly and uranium-hungry. Lasers offer an efficient alternative to the painstaking...Read full article

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