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Uranium Enrichment Cost Optimizer - HELP

(last updated 12 Dec 2009)



With uranium enrichment, the tails assay, that is the concentration of residual U-235 left in the depleted uranium stream, can be selected according to economic feasibility. Thus, the amount of separative work required to produce a certain amount of enriched uranium can be balanced vs. the amount of natural uranium required.
This calculator determines the tails assay, at which the cost of enriched uranium is minimized for given prices of uranium and of enrichment work. It uses the following assumptions: the uranium is natural uranium purchased on the market, and it is enriched for use in light water reactors, such as pressurized water reactors (PWR) or boiling water reactors (BWR).
(For enrichment of recycled uranium, see JOL's Friendly Enrichment Calculator.)

Upon entry of an amount of enriched uranium in the Material Balance table, the Optimum Tails Assay (as weight-percent U-235) is determined for the actual parameters, once the Calculate button is clicked. All other fields of the Material Balance, as well as the Cost Summary, are calculated for the Optimum Tails Assay.

The parameters used for the calculation can be set in the Cost Parameters and Process Parameters tables. These parameters show reasonable initial values which can be modified as needed. There are no other hidden parameters used in the calculation.

See special instructions for offline use of this calculator.


Cost Parameters

All prices are in US-Dollars.
Natural Uranium: Market Price [$ per lb U3O8]
for current figures, see Current Uranium Prices

Conversion: Market Price [$ per kg U]
for current figures, see Current Uranium Prices

Enrichment: Market Price [$ per SWU]
for current figures, see Current Uranium Prices


Process Parameters

Conversion: Losses [%]
Production losses during the conversion process.

Enrichment: Product Assay [wt_% U-235]
Weight-percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235 in the uranium contained in the product stream (enriched uranium hexafluoride) of the enrichment plant. Values for use in pressurized water reactors (PWR) range between 3.6% and 4.1%, and for use in boiling water reactors (BWR) between 3.0% and 3.2%. (Note: Natural uranium contains 0.711 wt-% of uranium-235)


Calculation Details

The formulae used by the calculator for the enrichment process can be found under Separative Work Unit (SWU) in the "Enriched uranium" article of Wikipedia.


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