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How much is it that needs to be in there for a rock to be able to be used to generate power? Can we expect technology to increase the life of the rocks, using more? Or maybe there might be a market for low-powered rocks? I guess the thing I don't understand the most would be, if the rocks came from the earth, then what's wrong with returning them to the earth, if they have less energy stored within them when we're done?

Uranium ore mined in the US is less than 1% uranium oxide, and less than 1% of that is U-235. After it's been enriched and used as fuel, U-235 decays to plutonium, which cannot be dumped back into the mines it came from. Not only is plutonium toxic and still radioactive, but also it can be recycled into weapons or fuel for another reactor. The following article explains how the "rocks" are turned into nuclear fuel and how spent fuel can be reprocessed into fuel to be used again.
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