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This project will examine inert matrix fuels containing ZrO2 and MgO as the inert matrix, with the relative amount of MgO varied from 30% to 70% in ZrO2. Reactor physics calculations will be used to examine suitable quantities of burnable poisons from the candidate elements Gd, Er, or Hf with reactor grade Pu providing the fissile component, with up to 10% of 239Pu. Ceramics will be synthesized and characterized based on the reactor physics results. The solubility the fuel ceramics, in reactor conditions, reprocessing conditions, and repository conditions, will be investigated in a manner to provide thermodynamic data necessary for modeling.

The fuel matrix will be designed based on neutronic properties, repository behavior, and reprocessing characteristics. The matrix should be as neutron transparent as possible. Burnable poisons will be used to maintain constant reactivity. The matrix should also act as a suitable host form for fission products and actinides in a repository environment. Finally, the matrix should be compatible with reprocessing schemes under development in the advanced fuel cycle.

This quarter magnesium and zirconium ceramics were produced with erbium and cerium in the matrix by a refined precipitation method yielding large quantities of ceramics at good precision. The ceramic ratios were chosen to find the solubility point of the zirconia matrix. Analysis of the ceramic materials was performed to determine the phase 2 structure. Studies on the neutronic properties of the inert fuel matrix were also performed.


Ceramics; Cerium; Cerium; Magnesium; Mixed oxide fuels (Nuclear engineering); Nuclear chemistry; Nuclear fuels; Plutonium; Solid oxide fuel cells; Zirconium


Ceramic Materials | Chemistry | Nuclear | Nuclear Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Physical Chemistry