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Production of small uranium dioxide microspheres for cermet nuclear fuel using the internal gelation process...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Annals of Nuclear Energy
Publication Date
Page Numbers
139 to 143

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is developing a uranium dioxide (UO2)/tungsten cermet fuel for potential use as the nuclear cryogenic propulsion stage (NCPS). The first generation NCPS is expected to be made from dense UO2 microspheres with diameters between 75 and 150 m. Previously, the internal gelation process and a hood-scale apparatus with a vibrating nozzle were used to form gel spheres, which became UO2 kernels with diameters between 350 and 850 m. For the NASA spheres, the vibrating nozzle was replaced with a custom designed, two-fluid nozzle to produce gel spheres in the desired smaller size range. This paper describes the operational methodology used to make 3 kg of uranium oxide microspheres.