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Uranium (U): a mildly radioactive element with two isotopes which are fissile (U-235 and U-233) and two which are fertile (U-238 and U-234).
Uranium is the basic fuel of nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants use fuel rods typically in 3 operational cycles, totalling about 6 years, till 3% has been fissioned. Spent nuclear fuel, after some 5 years in a pool for cooling and decaying, will be stored and eventually moved to a repository or reprocessed to generate new fuel.
In 2008, 65,000 tonnes of uranium are required to feed the 372 GWe-generating operating nuclear reactors. It is estimated that there is ample uranium at low cost to sustain three times the global power generation of today.
Uranium is sold in the form of uranium oxide concentrate (U3O8), which is a mixture of uranium oxides produced after milling ore uranium from a mine. Sometimes loosely called "yellow cake", because of its khaki colour.