Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Fuel Cycles

Viability of Using Inert Matrix Fuel in Reducing Plutonium Amounts in Reactors


The reactors around the world are producing plutonium, contained in spent fuel or as separated forms through reprocessing. Disposition of the fissile materials has become a primary focus of nuclear non-proliferation efforts worldwide.

The reduction of the accumulated plutonium by the use of the Inert Matrix Fuels (IMF) is subject of imminent interest in several Member States that would greatly enhance proliferation-resistant attributes of a fuel cycle apart from reduction of long term radio-toxicity of the spent fuel. A technical document entitled Viability of Inert Matrix Fuel in Reducing Plutonium Amounts in Reactors (IAEA TECDOC Series No. 1516) has been prepared which reviews the status of potential IMF candidates and describes several identified candidate materials for both fast and thermal reactors: MgO, ZrO2, SiC, Zr alloy, SiAl, ZrN; some of these have undergone test irradiations and post irradiation examination. This document also covers some aspects on modelling of IMF fuel performance and safety analysis. System studies have identified strategies for both implementation of IMF fuel as homogeneous or heterogeneous phases, as assemblies or core loadings, and in existing reactors in the shorter term, as well as in new reactors in the longer term.

For further information, please contact the NEFW Contact Point.

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