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YGN Technical Tour of Urenco

The Nuclear Institue Young Generation Network organized a tour of Urenco in Capenhurst for young professionals last September.

Urenco operates in a pivotal area of the nuclear fuel supply chain which can be subdivided into four key processes: mining, conversion, enrichment and fabrication; resulting in the generation of low carbon electricity for consumers around the world. Urenco provides enrichment services to customers across the globe using leading centrifuge technology.

An initial welcome and overview of operations carried out on the site was provided by Urenco before delegates were able to see the enrichment plant itself. Here the complete process of enrichment was explained, starting with the incoming feed to the plant and ending with the outgoing enriched product. This demonstrated the scale of operations, with heaters and chillers banked in parallel for ¾ of a mile. How centrifuge technology works was explained as the key process used in the separation of U-235 and U-238 to provide the required enrichment of fissile U-235 for use in fuel for nuclear power stations. A strong safety culture was evident with safety features on the plant identified and the aim to fail safe in all scenarios discussed.

Overall, the tour allowed for an increased understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle and not only gave an insight into Urenco’s operations and the technology used to enrichment uranium, but also the challenges they currently face and how to these may be overcome.


Written by Ryan Beech

Picture: Urenco Capenhurst,  from: