Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Braden Goddard


This research uses an existing innovative fuel design (IFD) that has intrinsic safety features and enhanced economics over the current uranium dioxide (UO2) light water fuel design and evaluates promising methods to improve the waste management and proliferation resistance of the IFD by doping the fresh fuel with select actinides.The most robust approach for proliferation resistance is to denature these materials by adding a uranium or plutonium isotope that hampers the usability of the materials in weapons. The proposed modifications to the IFD use this approach through elevated fractions of 238Pu. 238Pu generates large quantities of heat and neutrons through its radioactive decay and is estimated to make plutonium potentially “proliferation-proof." The IFD this work uses as a foundation is an advanced metallic fuel designed for use in current light water reactors. Due to the high fission density of metallic fuel and the proposed uranium enrichments, the plutonium produced by irradiating this fuel has promising isotopic content for proliferation resistance. This proliferation resistance will be further increased by adding 237Np and/or 241Am to the initial fresh fuel composition that will result in increased 238Pu content. Adding these actinides into the fresh fuel at 0.2 wt.%, the amount of 238Pu produced in the used fuel can be used for proliferation resistance. Increasing the actinide wt.% can potentially produce "proliferation-proof" used fuel. Also, by utilizing neptunium and americium in fresh fuel, many of the challenges with permanent geological disposal of used fuel can be mitigated.


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