Advanced Nuclear Fuel

The Y-12 National Security Complex has over 60 years of reactor fuel experience and for more than 25 years has supplied feedstock material for U.S. research reactor fuel. Now, Y-12’s materials science expertise contributes to nonproliferation progress and advances new fuel development.

Uranium/molybdenum foils are essential for conversion of high-power research reactors that produce medical isotopes and support nuclear research. Y-12 is the lead NNSA facility for the technology maturation of the UMo fuels required to convert reactors that currently use high enriched uranium as fuel.

TerraPower, a private company backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is developing next-generation nuclear reactor technology. And Y-12, armed with its expertise in uranium, is providing TerraPower with technical support.

This new class of nuclear reactor offers benefits missing from today's light water reactors, TerraPower asserts. The new reactor costs less to build and operate; lowers proliferation risks by reducing the need for enriched uranium; converts depleted uranium to usable fuel as it operates; uses liquid sodium as a coolant, which is inherently safer than water; and can run more than 30 years without refueling.