Select Page

Developing Safer and More Efficient Nuclear Fuels

Developing Safer and More Efficient Nuclear Fuels

Mechanical engineer Paul Millett is leading a study on strategies to minimize swelling in metallic nuclear fuels as a way to improve the safety and efficiency of nuclear reactors.

“Almost all current nuclear energy reactors operate with ceramic fuels,” Millett said. “But as an alternative, metallic fuels have generated significant interest because they have much higher thermal conductivity, meaning the temperatures in the reactor are far lower than with ceramic fuels.”

Fuels in metallic form, however, have a tendency to swell significantly during operation, which limits the efficiency of power generation. The swelling is a caused by gas elements such as helium and xenon that are produced by the atomic fission process and cluster to form gas-filled bubbles within the fuel.

Millett is the principal investigator on the $786,407 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. He will work with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and the Idaho National Laboratory, using advanced computer simulations and experiments to get a better understanding of the micro-scale processes that lead to volumetric swelling in metallic fuels.

Most importantly, the researchers will explore how to design fuels that are resistant to swelling.

About The Author

University of Arkansas logo

Looking for an expert?

The University of Arkansas Campus Experts website is a searchable database of experts who can talk to the media on current events.

Trending Topics:
Cellphone privacy
Net Neutrality
Immigration politics
Mars

Joshua Youngblood discusses the library’s Special Collections

More Episodes of Short Talks from the Hill

Short Talks From the Hill logo

The University Relations Science and Research Team

Camilla Shumaker
director of science and research communications
479-575-7422, camillas@uark.edu

Matt McGowan
science and research writer
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Robert Whitby
science and research writer
479-387-0720, whitby@uark.edu

DeLani Bartlette
feature writer
479-575-5709, dbartl@uark.edu

Connect with Us