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Fabrication and Testing of Advanced-Technology Nuclear Fuels

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brian Jaques

Nuclear power is the most reliable and efficient energy source in America and operates at full capacity 92% of the time. The U.S. has nearly 100 commercial nuclear reactors, more than any other country in the world, which produce more than 800 billion kWh (or 20%) of the nation’s electricity. Advanced-technology fuels are necessary for proposed new reactors as well as refueling of existing reactors, and they require expertise in both materials fabrication and characterization.

Role of Participant(s):

Participants will be introduced to basics of nuclear energy and the design of nuclear reactors, and they will participate in the fabrication and characterization of surrogates of advanced nuclear fuel forms and assemblies. They will gain expertise in powder handling and high-temperature furnace operations for transient oxidation behavior and consolidation of powders including techniques such as pressureless sintering and spark-plasma sintering. They will learn to characterize their samples using traditional physical characterization and metallographic methods combined with advanced analytical techniques such as high-resolution electron microscopy, electron back-scatter diffraction, and X-ray diffraction.

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