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A pressurized heavy-water reactor (PHWR) is a nuclear reactor, commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and neutron moderator. The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a pressurized water reactor. While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it creates greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel-enrichment facilities (offsetting the additional expense of the heavy water) and enhancing the ability of the reactor to make use of alternate fuel cycles.

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A reactor that uses heavy water as its moderator. Heavy water is an excellent moderator and thus permits the use of unenriched uranium as a fuel.

A reactor that uses heavy water as its moderator. Heavy water is an excellent moderator and thus permits the use of inexpensive natural (unenriched) uranium as fuel.

A nuclear reactor that uses heavy water as its moderator. Heavy water is an excellent moderator and thus permits the use of inexpensive (unenriched) uranium as a fuel.


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