Document Type

Annual Report

Publication Date



One of the primary concerns in selecting a fuel matrix for actinide-bearing fuels, such as those for transmutation systems, is fuel fabrication. Fuel fabrication technologies for the fabrication and re-fabrication processes must meet several technical considerations, such as minimizing secondary radioactive waste streams, economic viability, reasonable capital outlay, and must be easy to maintain over the transmuter core life cycle. Additionally, the fuel type chosen must be easily manufactured in a remote environment. The volatile behavior of americium during thermal processing further complicates these goals. Currently, the national program is investigating a number of candidate fuel matrices: metallic, ceramic, dispersion, nitride, and carbide/ TRISO, just to name the leading candidates.

This project examines the manufacturing processes currently under consideration for these fuel types, as currently envisioned by the Argonne National Laboratory-West manufacturing group. Each fuel type requires developing a distinct remote fabrication process. Conceptual fuel fabrication processes for the fuel types will be developed in conjunction with ANL. This knowledge allows scientists to make an informed selection regarding which candidate fuels require further development and irradiation testing for a transmutation system.

The UNLV research team achieved the following tasks during the first year of research:

• Survey of candidate transmutation fuels, coupled with a detailed evaluation of the identified fuel manufacturing processes following criteria established by the national fuel development program;

• Conceptual computer modeling of one manufacturing process allowing the identification of areas where automated processes are crucial to maintain the required throughput rates;

• Mr. Richard Silva, M.S. student, developed an initial work cell simulation with two robots. He will continue to develop detailed 3-D process simulation models for his thesis project; and,

• Mr. Jae-Kyu Lee, a Ph.D. student, developed a conceptual methodology for vision-based hot cell supervision and control.


Nuclear fuel rods – Design and construction; Manipulators (Mechanism); Robots; Industrial – Control systems


Nuclear Engineering | Robotics