Separating waste and recoverable materials
The purpose of chemical reprocessing operations is to separate the atoms found in irradiated fuel pellets into three fractions: recycled enriched uranium (URE), which can be recycled as it still contains 1% of fissile isotope 235; plutonium, of which 70% of the nuclei are fissile and can produce energy; residual fission products and minor actinides, treated as waste.