The National Nuclear Security Administration is leading an effort to develop and qualify a new fuel that will allow high-performance research reactors in the United States that currently use highly enriched uranium to be converted to reactors that use low-enriched uranium fuel.
The research reactors that could be converted include the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The goal is to develop a fuel that cannot be used in a nuclear weapon. The research reactors perform unique science and are a critical part of the U.S. nuclear complex, but all together, they use 200 kilograms of highly enriched uranium each year. That’s enough material for at least eight weapons, according to the NNSA.
On Wednesday, the NNSA said it has presented the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with a preliminary report on uranium-molybdenum (U-Mo) monolithic fuel. The report contains data about the performance of the new fuel in a reactor and how it holds up under a variety of conditions. [Read more…]