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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Iran using second cascade at Natanz

The Institute for Science and International Security reports that Iran has added a second cascade of centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear facility. The second cascade allows Iran to speed up the process of enriching uranium.
Although the IAEA had reported earlier this year that a second cascade was being constructed at Natanz, ISIS is the first to report the cascade is in use. ISIS reports that the arrangement of the cascades was probably developed from the same design recommended by the A.Q. Khan network to Libya. Less “feed material” is needed at each step, improving efficiency. As ISIS reported:
The two percent enriched tails from the first cascade is fed into the feed point of the second cascade and emerges as about 10 percent enriched uranium. This material is then fed into an upper stage of the first cascade, while the 3.5 percent uranium is fed in at the main feed point of this cascade. With two feed points, the total amount of 19.75 percent product is not increased, but the enrichment effort embodied in the 2 percent material is more fully utilized.

Recycling in the second cascade allows Iran to cut down on wasting separative work units (swu) in the enrichment process and ultimately requires less 3.5 percent LEU to produce a given quantity of 19.75 percent material. Iran is not short on a supply of 3.5 percent material to make research reactor fuel and will not be anytime soon. Thus, it hardly has to worry about using its tails efficiently.
I wonder if the sound in the background is centrifuges spinning or crickets chirping.


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