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INSET (In-Pile Steady-State Extreme Temperature Testbed)

Invention Reference Number

Cooling towers / Unsplash

Currently there is no capability to test materials, sensors, and nuclear fuels at extremely high temperatures and under radiation conditions for nuclear thermal rocket propulsion or advanced reactors. This technology is a low-cost, modular, vacuum furnace that is compatible with nuclear reactors and other irradiation facilities. Made of aluminum, its unique graphite insulation and heating element give this furnace unique capabilities for testing of materials, sensors and fuel up to 2300 C. Capable of steady state or rapid thermal transits, it can be used in the lab and also placed inside a nuclear reactor or other irradiation facility.


The IN-Pile Steady-State Extreme Temperature Testbed (INSET) is a vacuum furnace that allows extremely high temperature tests in a nuclear environment. Its 8-inch in diameter is designed to be placed into any reactor or irradiation facility with a port big enough to hold it; made with low-neutron activation materials so radioactivity is not induced and can be handled shortly after irradiation. Its unique heating element is graphite with molybdenum and graphite insulation. Many advanced nuclear reactors being designed operate at elevated temperatures above the standard PWR based reactor and need a platform for testing and qualification of their materials, fuel, and sensors before they are built and licensed. Systems for interspace rocket propulsion will use nuclear reactors up to 2300 C, but there is currently no way to test materials at that level except with this instrument. This technology allows testing of materials, instruments, and fuel under radiation at very high temperatures, up to 2300 C steady state or transient, to determine if a material or sensor will survive or degrade under such extreme environments.


  • Only technology that can test at extremely high temperatures in nuclear environment
  • Low cost (under $15,000)

Applications and Industries

  • Nuclear reactor industry
  • Space propulsion industry


To learn more about this technology, email or call 865-574-1051.