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  • Reactor-grade plutonium is found in spent nuclear fuel that a nuclear reactor has irradiated for years before removal from the reactor, in contrast to the low burnup of weeks or months that is commonly required to produce weapons-grade plutonium, with the high time in the reactor of reactor-grade plutonium leading to transmutation of much of the fissile, relatively long half-life isotope ²³⁹Pu into a number of other isotopes of plutonium that are less fissile or more radioactive. Thermal-neutron reactors can reuse reactor-grade plutonium only to a limited degree as MOX fuel, and only for a second cycle; fast-neutron reactors, of which there is less than a handful operating today, can use reactor-grade plutonium fuel as a means to reduce the transuranium content of spent nuclear fuel/nuclear waste.

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