The Nuclear Reactors of the Future Have a Russia Problem

Say you want to make nuclear fuel: Take some uranium, and with molecular wizardry, transform this heavy metallic element into a gas. Then put it in a centrifuge and whirl it around in a radioactive tornado, until the lightest particles cluster towards the center. Those are the molecules containing the uranium isotope 235. That’s the isotope for you, because it can produce energy when it’s split. Do this again and again in a series of centrifuges known as a cascade, siphoning off the U-235 each time, and pretty soon you’ll have low-enriched uranium, fuel for a traditional nuclear reactor. Go long enough and you’ll eventually reach high enrichment—and perhaps

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