Little bit about nuclear power and nuclear energy
As I understand this is not well written topic and many sources talk nonsense about stats. And then, I also myself was not well informed as I left physics field long time ago. Most of the written material is given in loose terms. Journalists write smoothly, but not on topic.
Reading such materials for physicist is an obvious trash talking with bate and switch . So let's clear up the subject.
Uranium is a word for a metal or material, but to say Uranium is to say nothing. One must always meticulously ask: What Uranium? If person keep talking in general terms, then just ignore him. He is in mid-school level. If he starts saying Uranium 238 or Uranus 235 or Natural, then he already understands something about topic and he/she mastered high school textbook. Well, most of them are chatting about Uranium ore. Such information about "production" , but in reality mining gravel is completely useless information. We are not interested in how many stones and even granite gravel have you dug up. We are interested in how much and who is producing the main source for energy, the uranium 235 or U235.
235 is it's mass number, atomic number 92, but the most important thing about it is the 143 neutrons and this gives it the ability to be active in fission. There is also uranium 238 (sometimes called depleted uranium and it has 146 neutrons) and uranium 234. So, ONLY Uranium 235 is used in atomic energy and in atomic bombs.
You can buy 238 even without a license. It's considered byproduct from enrichment and in essence a garbage. It is a garbage so much that it was and is used to shoot gun shells in order to disperse at enemy soil (to make it poisoned for many thousand years). I was holding ingots of 238 uranium in my hands and it is very weak in radioactivity. Just ware gloves and you will be ok.
It is believed that Uranium (all isotopes) is in the earth's crust with an abundance of about 2 ∙ 10–4 percent. But this is very approximate figure. In terms of abundance, Uranus is about 38th place. But that doesn't mean anything - try to get it! And not just dig up a pile of stones, but get the metallic uranium. And most of all this element is in sedimentary rocks (shale, various silicates, phosphorites, phosphates and more complex compounds with vanadium or titanium based on hexavalent uranium). The approximate concentration of natural uranium in those: 8 ∙ 10-3 and 2.5 ∙ 10-2 percent. It is estimated that the earth's crust contains 10*14 tons of uranium (all isotopes), but the main problem is that it is very scattered and there are no formations with high concentration.
As I mentioned, the Uranium ore is not that big a deal to find. This gravel is mined in millions and trillions of tons. So information about mining is good, but in essence doesn't make too much sense . For example, we read "... Australia is the number one country where uranium is produced" and ... they bring 900 tons Uranium per year! It is difficult to come up with more stupid and useless information then that. What it means: In Australia, they dug up a pile of gravel and moved everything to another big pile.
So by now reader got the picture. From the big pile of gravel, the most important uranium 235, the rest is junk.
Here is very reach on uranium ore:
Until something useful is extracted from this pile of gravel, this gravel will go through about 101 stages and intermediate material will be in at least 2 countries.
Gravel is crushed, then leached, then separated to fractions, and so on and so forth. And at the end of a long and multi-level process, we obtain a concentrate of uranium oxide U3O8 or "yellow cake". This material will be highly radioactive because it contains different isotopes, including a very active 235 isotope. From 1,000 tons of uranium ore (pay attention) get about 1 tons of uranium oxide. This wasp is full of garbage. Even if you are already extracting pure uranium from the oxide, then there will be ONLY ABOUT 0.7% uranium 235! Have you heard or not? From 10 tons with 9 zeros, we THEORETICALLY IN THE BEST CASE get 700 kg or 0.7 tons of uranium 235!
But this is still not the case ... How much does it take to get this Rare 235 uranium out of the oxide? The process most often uses uranium hexafluoride UF6, which is obtained from uranium oxide.
How much does it take to get this Rare 235 uranium out of the oxide, which is in essence natural uranium oxide? The process called enrichment. Let's say it again: natural uranium is uranium, containing about 99.28 percent of the isotope uranium-238, about 0.71 percent of the isotope uranium-235 and about 0.01 percent of the isotope of uranium-234. Natural uranium is not a stone or millions of tons of ore. This is Uranium already extracted from stones, but still containing different isotopes. In order to enrich this uranium from 0.7% U235 to at least 4-5%, a huge amount of money, time (months), energy (electricity) and complex technical solutions are spent. In the process of producing U235, uranium hexafluoride UF6 is most often used, which is obtained from uranium oxide. Then this gas is passed through centrifuges and in this process heavier Uranium 238 and lighter 235 are separated. Energy is spent so much that such that those enrichment places easy to trace with humongous electricity consumption.
It turns out that ONLY 15 countries in theory can do this. They are: Argentina, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, Israel, India, Iran, China, Belgium, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, USA, France, Japan. But here the most important thing is WHO and HOW MUCH? You will not be told the exact numbers anywhere, but something can be fished out. Russia - 40% of the world's uranium enrichment capacity, the USA - 20%, France - 15%, Germany, Great Britain and Belgium together - 22%, the rest of the world - only 3%. But here, too, the data is a little false. According to agreements and contracts, Russia is engaged in rough, low-enriched uranium, i.e. primary levels of centrifuge. So it turns out that Russia has even more than 40% of its enrichment capacity. Then this 235 uranium is put into pellets in the form of uranium dioxide and such material is already very active. Such tablets are sealed into rods and these rods are loaded into the reactor. An average reactor consume about 20-30 tons of uranium dioxide. And the active rods change about once every 3 years.
And how much this uranium 235 is consumed by country:
The USA is the leader in terms of consumption 99.5MWatt, well, let's round off 100MW per hour and Russia is 20MW per hour. I can in tonnes, but again in tonnes it is necessary to be careful with words, since Westinghouse and Rosatom technologies are different. Therefore, I prefer to leave it in energy.
Does the reader need to explain something further?
Conclusion:Those cookies are not enough for everyone ... or from Mikhalkov:
The old man looked at his cow:
- Why am I, Burenka, selling you?
I won't sell my cow to anyone -
I need such a beast myself!