Preliminary fabrication and characterization of inert matrix and thoria fuels for plutonium disposition in light water reactors

F. Vettraino, G. Magnani, T. La Torretta, E. Marmo, S. Coelli, L. Luzzi, P. Ossi, G. Zappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)


The plutonium disposition is presently acknowledged as a most urgent issue at the world level. Inert matrix and thoria fuel concepts for Pu burning in LWRs show good potential in providing effective and ultimate solutions to this issue. In non-fertile (U-free) inert matrix fuel, plutonium oxide is diluted within inert oxides such as stabilized ZrO2, Al2O3, MgO or MgAl2O4. Thoria addition, which helps improve neutronic characteristics of inert fuels, appears as a promising variant of U-free fuel. In the context of an R&D activity aimed at assessing the feasibility of the fuel concept above, simulated fuel pellets have been produced both from dry-powder metallurgy and the sol-gel route. Results show that they can be fabricated by matching basic nuclear grade specifications such as the required geometry, density and microstructure. Some characterization testing dealing with thermo-physical properties, ion irradiation damage and solubility also have been started. Results from thermo-physical measurements at room temperature have been achieved. A main feature stemming from solubility testing outcomes is a very high chemical stability which should render the fuel strongly diversion resistant and suitable for direct final disposal in deep geological repository (once-through solution).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23 - 33
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering

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