The world’s leading uranium producer is Canada. Uranium is a radioactive metal that occurs within the earth’s crust. Uranium is a fairly common element that is found all over the world and it is mined in many countries. Before uranium can be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor it must be processed. This process includes a milling process called Uranium Dioxide Milling. The following is a guide on what you need to know about Uranium Dioxide Milling.
Uranium comes out of the mine as the concentrate of a stable oxide known by chemists as U3O8, or as peroxide. When uranium ore is extracted from a mine, it contains moderately little of the radioactive uranium element. Although there are mines that produce ore that contains 20 percent uranium, generally there are lower purity levels. Both in situ leach mining and excavation methods are used to extract uranium ore.
Excavation can be open pit and underground mining. Open pit mining is used when the deposits are near the surface. Underground mining is used for deep deposits which are normally greater than 120 m deep. Milling, which is normally performed near the uranium mine, is the process of extracting the uranium from the mined ore. Yellowcake is milled uranium oxide and it is the first step to creating enriched uranium. Yellowcake is a coarse, oxidized powder that is most often the color yellow. However, it can have a grey or red tint. It will depend on the type and number of the impurities that may remain after the milling process is complete.
The Uranium Dioxide milling process will eliminate the useless minerals that are present in the ore. First, raw ore travels through a collection of industrial grinding and crushing machines. The crushing and grinding creates the pulped ore. The pulped ore is soaked in sulphuric acid. The purpose is to leach out the uranium. Once this process is completed, a drying and filtering process takes place. The final product is yellowcake.
Yellowcake generally contains more than 80% uranium. The powder still has to be converted to uranium hexafluoride, a gas at relatively low temperatures, before it can be enriched. The enrichment process separates gaseous uranium hexafluoride into two streams. The first stream is one being enriched to the needed level known as low-enriched uranium. The second stream is progressively depleted in U-235 and is called ‘tails.’ It is the actual depleted uranium.
Enrichment of the uranium is the process that makes the type of uranium used by nuclear power plants. Enriched uranium can be used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel. The great majority of the fuel is used in nuclear power plants to produce electricity. It can also be used in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. Today there are companies in such countries as Canada, USA, and the UK that deliver the fine chemical production process known as Uranium Dioxide Milling. Technological developments have lead to remarkable innovations when it comes to extracting and processing materials for human use. Uranium Dioxide Milling is an efficient and effective way of extracting and processing mined uranium.
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