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Fuel Cycle Science and Technology

ORNL supports the understanding, development, evaluation and deployment of fuel cycle technology from uranium ore and enrichment, through reactor technology, to used nuclear fuel and repository performance.

The science-based expertise and experience is application focused, and is underpinned by key active facilities across the full range of nuclear fuel cycle facilities and technologies; enrichment technology, fuel manufacturing, test irradiations, post irradiation examination, chemical separations, recycle and waste management. In addition, ORNL provides a state-of-the-art modeling and simulation capability that spans the fuel cycle, including inventory analyses, spent fuel management and fuel cycle options (economics and logistics).

The science research also includes safeguards technology, looking at development and deployment of non-destructive assay techniques and new instruments to ensure the safe and secure use of fuel cycle technology.

The teams are multi-disciplinary and include fuel cycle application of physics, chemistry, flow-sheet design, material science, experimental design and implementation.

It is the integration of the disciplines and an applied understanding of all of the fuel cycle stages and how they impact and affect each other that provides the strength in depth and breadth of ORNL’s fuel cycle technology capability.

Examples of recent activities include development of accident tolerant fuels, evaluation of fuel cycle options and technologies for the US and development of the economics and modeling tools for fuel cycle assessment.