European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Transuranium Elements
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The Nuclear Fuels Unit concentrates on the production of experimental nuclear fuels, ceramics for conditioning, and on the fabrication of fuel pins and capsules. Activities also include the investigation of specific properties, and irradiation performance testing. They fall under the following ITU Internal Research Actions:
The Unit comprises about 26 members and actinide handling facilities are available for powder production by conventional metallurgical methods, in addition to advanced liquid to particle conversion routes (sol gel, infiltration), pellet compaction and sintering, and welding using the TIG method.
The materials investigated include MOX, Minor Actinide Fuels and Targets, Inert Matrix Fuels (IMF), either as oxides, nitrides or carbides in homogeneous or heterogeneous forms (CERCER or CERMET).
Material characterisation is performed using metallography, thermal gravimetric analysis, differential thermal analysis, calorimetry and dilatometry. Other property measurements are performed in collaboration with other Units (X-ray diffraction and low temperature calorimetry – Actinide Research, Thermophysical and thermochemical properties – Materials Research)
Following irradiation testing in research (e.g. HFR) and commercial reactors, our fuels return to the HCT Unit for post-irradiation examination.