Magnox fuel can, c 1968.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A Magnox power station has operated at Oldbury, near Bristol, since 1968. The fuel is natural uranium. The fuel cans (as shown here) fit into vertical channels in the graphite core of the reactor, which slows down neutrons and makes them more effective at causing other uranium nuclei to split, or fision. When they fision, energy is released and the core heats up. Carbon dioxide gas is pased through the core to cool it, and is then piped to a boiler where it heats water. The steam produced drives generators to provide electricity.