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Tails management

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Tails management

Tails management

Tails Management

During the enrichment process, depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), also known as tails, is made as a by-product. Tails still contain a low concentration of uranium235 and can be re-enriched if economically viable.

Our Tails Management Facility (TMF) in Capenhurst, UK, entered operation in early 2021, managing the deconversion of tails into stable uranium oxide (U3 O8), a powder which can be stored for long periods prior to further enrichment or safe disposal.

Key facts

Began operation


number of barrels processed


tonnes of uranium deconverted


We have now achieved sustainable production levels with two fully commissioned kilns and we are continuing to ramp up production, processing our inventory of depleted uranium. 

This high quality, long-term facility shows our commitment to responsible uranium stewardship and provides a service for our customers and the wider nuclear industry. 

The TMF also represents an important step in our contribution to sustainability. A carbon footprint audit we conducted of the TMF showed that the coproduct we produce, hydrofluoric acid, has an estimated carbon intensity of only one third of that produced via traditional means.

How deconversion works

Deconversion of UF6 is achieved by reacting gaseous UF6 with steam to produce uranyl fluoride (UO2F2). We further react UO2F2 with steam and hydrogen to produce U3O8 powder and hydrogen fluoride (HF) vapour. All reactions take place within specially designed units.

The resultant U3O8 powder is packed into containers for long term storage. The gaseous HF is cooled and liquefied as hydrofluoric acid, which is then sold to our customer. Hydrofluoric acid is extensively used for cleaning stainless steel, etching glass, removing oxide impurities from metals and purifying quartz. It is also used to produce refrigerants.

Watch our video to take a virtual tour of the TMF or download our brochure to see how we deconvert our byproduct in the TMF.

Download our brochure

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Tails Management

Tails management

Tails Management

Sustainability is integral to everything Urenco does, including our efficient use of natural uranium in our enrichment services and our responsible management of the by-product, depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6), or tails, as it is commonly known.

During the enrichment process, the concentration of the U235 isotope in natural uranium is increased from 0.71% to approximately 3-5%. The depleted fraction usually still contains about 20-30% of the initial concentration of U235 and this resource can be re-enriched, which is a common industry practice.

This practice actively promotes the conservation of resources and Urenco will take this approach whenever it is commercially viable to do so, as it is in current market conditions. All transactions with partners are subject to strict non-proliferation regimes based on international standards of security and safeguards.

When it is not commercially viable to re-enrich tails, we store it safely and securely ourselves or with our partners, for enrichment at a future date or deconversion.

Deconversion involves converting tails to uranium oxide (U3O8) for longer term storage pending reuse or final disposal. Urenco has invested in a multi-million pound Tails Management Facility in the UK, run by our subsidiary Urenco ChemPlants, to handle the deconversion process and it currently serves our European sites.

More information about Urenco’s commitment to sustainability, including the responsible management of nuclear materials, can be found in our Sustainability Report


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