Study reveals single-step strategy for recycling used nuclear fuel

A typical nuclear reactor uses only a small fraction of its fuel rod to produce power before the energy-generating reaction naturally terminates. What is left behind is an assortment of radioactive elements, including unused fuel, that are disposed of as nuclear waste in the United States. Although certain elements recycled from waste can be used for powering newer generations of nuclear reactors, extracting leftover fuel in a way that prevents possible misuse is an ongoing challenge.