Once you have worked your way through all the other kinds of power generation in Factorio, you are left with only one thing — Nuclear Power. Though a controversial type of technology in the real world, being able to generate nuclear energy is a winning endgame strategy in this game. It requires high-level technologies, so it will take you some time to get there. But once you do it ,you will find that going nuclear gives you a very high power output.
This guide is going to tell you how to get Nuclear Power and how it works. It will also tell you all the things that you can do with it once you have it established in your factory.
Nuclear Power Research Pre-Requisites in Factorio
As with all building games, you have to work your way up the tech tree before you can even start thinking about Nuclear technologies. You need to have researched both Concrete and Advanced Electronics to start researching Nuclear Power. But what’s the best way to get there? Below is a diagram showing the tech tree path you need to follow to unlock the Nuclear Power tech.
You need nuclear power to use: Centrifuge, Heat Exchanger, Heat Pipes, Nuclear Reactor, Steam Turbine, Uranium Fuel Cell, Uranium Processing.
Nuclear power research is needed to research: Atomic Bomb, Kovarex enrichment process, Nuclear fuel repossessing, Uranium ammo.
Acquiring Uranium in Factorio
Once you have access to nuclear power, you need to find some Uranium ore. Uranium is used to make a variety of nuclear ammunition, as well as fuel cells. You can actually mine uranium before researching nuclear power, so make sure you have a good stash of it so you can get using it as soon as you can.
Uranium ore glows green in mineral deposits and can be mined in a similar way to normal ores, with a Mining Drill. The only difference is that you need to make sure you have some sulfuric acid to use with the drill.
Now that you have your raw material, you need to process it in a Centrifuge to get Uranium-235 and Uranium-238. Both of these types of uranium are needed in nuclear power generation.
The recipe for a Centrifuge is:
Although mining is the best way to obtain uranium, it can also be obtained by as process called Nuclear fuel repossessing. This process repurposes the used-up nuclear fuel cells that get burned after being in a nuclear reactor. The process literally turns the cells back into their component parts. While this is a good way of recycling the used-up fuel cells, it is not very efficient as you need a lot of used cells to make any decent amount of uranium.
Generating Nuclear Power in Factorio
Now that you have your uranium fuel cells, you need to be able to turn that into nuclear power. To do this, you need to build a couple of things — a Nuclear Reactor and a Heat Exchanger.
Nuclear Reactor recipe
Heat Exchanger recipe
The reactor burns the fuel cells, then the heat exchanger collects the heat produced by that process and cools it down to produce steam. The steam then powers the steam turbines, which generate power.
Building a Nuclear Power Station in Factorio
So now you have a rough idea of the processes required to generate nuclear power, you now have to put it all together to build yourself a fully working nuclear power station. With added pipes, conveyor belts, and other machinery, you will be looking at a station that has:
- Miners working on mining the uranium (make sure they have a source of sulphuric acid).
- A centrifuge processing the raw material into usable uranium.
- An assembly machine that turns uranium into uranium fuel cells.
- A nuclear reactor that takes and burns the fuel cells, then leaves them to be repossessed once they’re used.
- A heat exchanger that takes the heat given off during the burning process and cools it down to create steam.
- Steam turbines that utilize the steam produced to generate power.
The power output relies on how much raw material your process is able to generate. So make sure that you have access to a large uranium deposit (or multiple if that is available).
If you want to get an idea of different set-ups and layouts, then the Factorio subreddit is an invaluable resource that’s full of blueprints and examples — such as this one posted by Redditor unique_2:
We hope that this look at nuclear power in Factorio has given you some idea of how to progress your game to the next level. Make sure you check out our other Factorio guides for more help with the game.