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How much uranium yellowcake is in coal versus nuclear power?

By       Message John Toradze       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   13 comments

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Author 20724
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I happened on this article, then did the arithmetic on the implications.
Sparton Resources announced that it had successfully produced a small quantity of yellowcake (U3O8) from fly ash from a Chinese coal-fired power plant.

The uranium extraction test work is being conducted by Sparton's processing engineering consulting firm Lyntek Inc of Denver, Colorado, USA. The test to produce yellowcake used 6.1 kg of mixed fly ash produced at the Xiaolongtang power plant. The ash averaged some 0.4 pounds of U308 per tonne of ash (160 parts per million uranium or 0.00016).
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The ratio of yellowcake to enriched uranium is about 11%-12% of the yellowcake that creates nuclear fuel for power plants. World production of coal ash is somewhere between 700 million and 1.5 billion tons per year, which is a world distribution of about 160,000 tons per year of raw yellowcake uranium upon the world. (Taking 1 billion tons as the nominal value for convenience).  10^9 x 1.6x10^-4  
One source has worldwide uranium production at 36,263 tons in 2004. Which means, that if all the uranium mined each year for power plants were dispersed as fine particles around the world in the air, it would be around 22% of what is distributed from coal fired power plants. Then, of course, there is radium and other materials from coal. Coal is, unfortunately, the default option that we are taking when we ask for electricity without burning oil or gas.
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John Toradze is the pen name of a scientist who ran an office in Tbilisi, Georgia for 5 years and traveled widely in Russia the former USSR nations and nearby. I have authored chapters for books published by the West Point terrorism center on (more...)

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