Talk:Enriched uranium

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I'm making an artical stub for the United States Enrichment Corpoation ( USEC ) that will link here.

Quinobi 20:14, 26 Sep 2004 (UTC)

SWU (separative work unit)[edit]

I am moving this topic to Isotope separation where I think it will make a bit more sense when one sees it in context. DV8 2XL 02:35, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Na, I decided not to and expanded it here. DV8 2XL 04:19, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

How can a material like "depleted" uranium, with same number of nucleons and all the same composition as U-238, of course still being U-238, suddenly become less radioactive whether or not U-235 has been extracted or enriched? This makes no sense because if the Uranium were to lose its unstable properties it would move down the decay chain to something else; what you have described is physically impossible. U-238 is U-238; probably you are following some pro-military mandate to claim uranium is something different than uranium. Don't be fooled into thinking depleted uranium is in any way depleted; because it's still uranium.

  • The term depleted uranium means the stock has been depleted of all or most of its inventory of U-235. The term was not used in any other matter. DV8 2XL 00:39, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Natural uranium is composed of U-238, U-235 and U-234. Depleted uranium has most of the U-235 and U-234 removed. Because of their shorter half lives, both of these are more radioactive than U-238. Even though U-234 is only 0.006% of natural uranium, its radioactivity is the same as the much larger amount of U-238. pstudier 17:41, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Weapons from enriched uranium[edit]

I have restored my recent edits about weapons, which were rudely removed with the edit summary "nonsence."

There are no sourced statements in this entire article, so faulting my edits on that basis is absurd.

However, if one needs a primer, one needs to search no further than wikiarticle critical mass. Here we learn that implosion and beryllium reflectors can allow assembly of a supercritical mass from an amount of material that would be subcritical as a bare sphere.

As for dirty bombs from 20% or less enriched uranium, U-235 having a 700 million year half-life, I guess you could make a dirt bomb from it. It just wouldn't kill anyone. You could also stuff a wad of paper into a straw and spit it at a tank, and call it an anti-tank weapon. Give Peace A Chance 17:40, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

That just doesn't belong in this article. See your discussion page. --DV8 2XL 17:53, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Then make your freakin edit summary state that you think it doesn't belong, not that it is "nonsence." Give Peace A Chance 18:20, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

You will still have to provide a reference - see the section at the bottom of the article for the citations for the rest of the topic. I will give you a few hours before removing your edits - but they will be removed, if not by me then the others who watch this page if you don't provide refs.--DV8 2XL 18:44, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
P.S. The dirty bomb statements don't belong here either, since it only applies to used fuel, not the enrichment process. --DV8 2XL 18:55, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

It seems these unsourced statements challenged above have been here since 2006. Since no sources have been added during these four years I strongly propose removing the statements as they are. Until then I'll add a simple [citation needed] for clarification Troed (talk) 15:22, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

I disagree strongly. The statements are essentially correct, and it should not be hard to find citations. It would be useful to add a figure showing bare critical mass as a function of enrichment. But if we deleted all statements that were uncited in this article, there would be precious little left. Evidently the dirty bomb statements have been removed, and it sounds like they were "nonsense." NPguy (talk) 02:52, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Well if there are any citations that easy to find I suggest adding them - it's not up to us to judge whether the info is correct or not. I do agree with your suggestion of an explanatory picture - but the opinion that an article, just because it's currently badly written, shouldn't uphold Wikipedia concepts like WP:OR and WP:RS is a bit harder to accept. Troed (talk) 22:42, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
There's not much in this article that is sourced, so there's no reason to pick on this section, particularly since it's not wrong. Here is a citation that supports the claims and has a nice graph to boot. NPguy (talk) 02:06, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm sourcing. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 02:16, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
Now multiply sourced, including NPguy's one. FYI - RS doesn't require every statement in Wikipedia to be sourced. RS is an implementation policy for our core verifyability policy, aka WP:V. WP:V focuses on statements which are likely to be challenged:
This page in a nutshell: Any material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation.
Obviously, Troed brought a challenge. But for a number of years the statements weren't.
I am sort of curious where you were coming from in making the challenge, Troed. What did you think was inaccurate? What gave you the impression that it was likely to be inaccurate?
Obviously, not everyone's a uranium nuclear weapons design expert (cough) but the article here is using the same info widely available in the nonproliferation community, nuclear engineering community, NPT treaty and IAEA operating regulations / etc. I'm somewhat suprised that anyone who is interested in this would find it questionable...
You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but I am curious.
Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 02:37, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for sourcing, I have no opinions on the subject whatsoever myself and was seriously just looking for verification. The numbers on this page were used in a debate and I have a habit of wanting to verify information off Wikipedia by going to the listed sources. In this case there were none, and when there was an existing discussion on the talk page I got suspicious. This discussion and the conclusion is an excellent example of Wikipedia working as it should :) Rejoice. Troed (talk) 10:41, 2 October 2010 (UTC)


Would be nice if someone could add a reference about which countries uses this technology. thks

Is this the place to express my surprise that North Korea doesn't seem to be referenced? I am not a specialist, just a general reader and am not too familiar with the system, so apologies if I am treading on any toes here. Dawright12 (talk) 11:55, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes. I have added a reference. NPguy (talk) 17:14, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Dead Link[edit]

It appears that the "Uranium enrichment (PDF, 651 KB)" link is dead. Can someone fix or remove this? ~Anon

LEU caption wrong, surely?[edit]

I don't believe the caption on the "Low-enriched uranium powder" photo is correct. Uranium oxide is that nice yellow colour, but LEU is a metal; that's just a bucket of yellowcake. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 13:46, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

I fixed this. I also changed another photo caption from 'highly enriched uranium' to 'uranium metal. There is no visual difference in uranium metal regardless of isotopic composition. I didn't go any further, 'Enriched uranium' is not the place to go into chemical processing steps from oxide to metal. Murray Baker. -- 13:09, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

OK, but the HEU picture actually is of an HEU billet, so it is worth pointing that out in the HEU, even if it looks the same as regular uranium metal. Better to give more information than less. --Fastfission 13:50, 27 October 2006 (UTC)


"Enrichment of Uranium should redirect to this page. N i g h t F a l c o n 9 0 9 0 9' T a l k 18:14, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

  • I disagree. I suggest that a separate article is needed on "Enrichment of uranium", starting with content that is currently in this article. --orlady 15:13, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Uranium enrichment as contributor to global warming?[edit]

Got a couple of claims here from anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott that "the [Department of Energy] and the EPA [will tell you] that, at the moment, the process of uranium enrichment for fuel for nuclear power releases huge quantities of CO2. ... Meanwhile, the enrichment of uranium is responsible for [over 90 percent] of the CFC-114 gas released into the air in the U.S. ... CFC gas is 10,000 to 20,000 times more potent as a global warmer and heat trapper than CO2." (brackets in original) -- -- Can anybody confirm or deny these assertions? -- Writtenonsand 23:18, 6 August 2007 (UTC)


Argentina doesn't have an enriched uranium production at commercial levels. In fact, all Argentina's reactors are of CANDU type, using natural uranium as its fuel.Agre22 (talk) 14:51, 18 September 2008 (UTC)agre22

Argentina does have a safeguarded gaseous diffusion enrichment plant at Plicaniiyeu, which is shut down. NPguy (talk) 03:03, 19 September 2008 (UTC)
Pilcaniyeu plant was reopened on 2010 [1] --Jor70 (talk) 03:46, 28 November 2010 (UTC)


Care should be taken with the information that a viable commercial process has been developed with respect to Enriched_uranium#Separation_of_Isotopes_by_Laser_Excitation_.28SILEX.29. The source, The New York Times, is notorious for its close relationship with United States intelligence agencies. The source itself says that no independent verification is possible. It is quite possible the story is a fabrication. User:Fred Bauder Talk 17:20, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Dubious claim of enriched uranium use in Lebanon[edit]

An editor recently added a section on "Contamination as a result of the 2006 Lebanon War." This section makes the claim that:

Soil and water samples were collected from Khiam in the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War. Of 15 samples, two contained high levels of undepleted uranium and four samples contained low-enriched uranium.

citing the source Evidence of Enriched Uranium in Guided Weapons Employed by the Israeli Military in Lebanon in July 2006, by C. Busby and D. Williams. The paper itself is suspect, as it claims uranium isotopic ratios only slightly above natural and describes (but does not contain) a statistical analysis showing that this difference is significant even though the analyses of some of the quality control samples show similar deviations from the expected isotopic ratios. Furthermore, the paper has been debunked by this report and is not supported by this UN assessment.

Based on this, I conclude that the claim is not reliable and will delete this new section. NPguy (talk) 15:20, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Where does the[edit]

The article gives the following in the definition of SWUs. The link it gives for value functions is not helpful in understanding this.

V(x) = (1 - 2x)  \ln \left(\frac{1 - x}{x}\right)

Someone told me this is a "separation potential" in chemistry. I really have no idea what leads to this equation, I think it would be valuable for the article. Can anyone help? Alan Rominger (talk) 22:26, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

The Main Article Graphic Appears To Be Designed For Propaganda Purposes[edit]

LEU is 3-19.75% Not 3-4% As it currently appears in the graphic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Toyotabedzrock (talkcontribs) 20:00, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand how this could be considered propaganda. It is merely an illustration of the most common forms of uranium in use. If you have a different proposal for this graphic, please explain. NPguy (talk) 17:18, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

File:HEUraniumC.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:HEUraniumC.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on December 19, 2012. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2012-12-19. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page so Wikipedia doesn't look bad. :) Thanks! howcheng {chat} 17:29, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Billet of enriched uranium

A billet of enriched uranium, which is uranium where the percent composition of uranium-235 (235U) has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.

Photo: United States Department of Energy
ArchiveMore featured pictures...

Too many "could"s and other problems[edit]

From the "Grades" section:

  • "Fuel designed with SEU could provide additional benefits such as safety improvements or operational flexibility, normally the benefits were considered in safety area while retaining the same operational envelope."
  • "RepU recovered from light water reactor (LWR) spent fuel typically contains slightly more U-235 than natural uranium, and therefore could be used to fuel reactors that customarily use natural uranium as fuel."
  • "[...] creating neptunium-237 which would be one of the more mobile and troublesome radionuclides in deep geological repository disposal of nuclear waste."

The coulds/woulds here imply that these applications/effects are merely theoretical. If so, more explanation is required to clarify. Also, the first sentence needs to be rewritten for grammar, but as I am not a subject matter expert, I wasn't sure what the intended meaning was. The last sentence could use some work as well - "one of the more mobile and troublesome radionuclides" does not sound very encyclopedic, but again, not sure how best to improve it. --Fru1tbat (talk) 17:31, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

The first point is clearly muddled. I think the idea is that loading SEU at the periphery allows a more even power density across the core and allows the reactor to operate at the same overall power with lower peak power density. Can someone confirm?
The second is largely hypothetical. The Russian RBMK reactors use reprocessed uranium from VVER spent fuel, but according to this article this is blended with highly enriched uranium to an enrichment of 2.4%, according to this article. A related fuel cycle involves the Direct Use of PWR Spent Fuel in CANDU reactors (DUPIC), without reprocessing. This has been tested in South Korea at the level of individual pellets.
The third could perhaps be more precise, the point being that Np-237 is the main contributor to the radiotoxiity (a combination of intrinsic, environmental, and biological factors that provides a measure of radiation hazard) of spent fuel in time frames of hundreds of thousands of years. NPguy (talk) 19:28, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Wrong Translations[edit]

Enriched uranium is a product - the German translation is "angereichertes Uran". Enrichment ist the process - the German translation is "Anreicherung" - this is the difference. --Fmrauch (talk) 18:27, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

In French there is the same problem ! --Fmrauch (talk) 19:14, 25 December 2013 (UTC)


"Highly enriched uranium (HEU) has a greater than 20% concentration of 235U or 233U".

This is WRONG for U-233 but correct for U-235. The LEU-HEU boundary is at about 11% to 12% for U-233. I am researching it and will get back to this page if I find an exact figure.

Actually, it should read "greater than or equal to" since the highest concentration of LEU for U-235 is considered to be 19.875%.

Tyrerj (talk) 07:22, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

HEU Uranium-233 is greater than or equal to 12% (by weight)

LEU Uranium-233 is less than 12& (by weight)



Tyrerj (talk) 07:52, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Actually, this is not correct either. The Oak Ridge paper cited above makes the argument that HEU should be defined in this way, but the only established definition of HEU is uranium with 20% or more U-235. See the IAEA Safeguards Glossary. There is no established definition involving U-233 composition, in large part because U-233 is produced not by enrichment but by irradiation of thorium. NPguy (talk) 19:58, 25 January 2015 (UTC)