NE Seminar: “Development of Nuclear Fuels for Accident Tolerance and Improved Performance”

Date(s) - 04/04/2019
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm

Rhines Hall 125


Andrew Nelson, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist
Nuclear Fuels Materials Group
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Advances in the science of nuclear materials have been largely centered on structural materials in recent decades. However, properties and performance of the fissile material (the fuel) ultimately dictate the power output, cycle length, safety margin, and beyond design basis behavior of reactors. This reality of nuclear reactor design is contrasted against the fact that the number of fissile materials demonstrated as nuclear fuels in 2016 is nearly identical to a list that could have been compiled in 1976. However, interest in mitigating the loss of coolant accident in water-cooled reactors has inspired renewed investigation and discovery science centered on fuel materials.

This talk will examine the central question of material selection for nuclear fuel performance in both a historical and modern context as dictated by reactor applications. Focus is placed on the specific performance targets chosen by ongoing worldwide efforts in fuel development. The current status of a range of concepts will be discussed, with emphasis placed on anticipated challenges and remaining opportunities.