Nuclear Applications for Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics and MAX Phases

William E. Lee, Edoardo Giorgi, Robert Harrison, Alexandre Maître, Olivier Rapaud

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Future nuclear reactor systems and the severe conditions under which they will operate are reviewed. Current nuclear applications of ceramics are predominantly as oxide fuels as well as ceramic/glassy waste forms, although non-oxides do find niche uses such as graphite moderators and B4C control rods. UHTCs properties of interest to the nuclear industry include that they may be fissile, and that they have high thermal conductivity, refractoriness, and phase stability. Using such properties, future nuclear ceramics will potentially include UHTCs, for example, as non-oxide fuels (U/Pu carbides and nitrides) and fuel cladding (TaC, ZrC, HfC). MAX phases may also find application as fuel cladding. Oxide and non-oxide composite (e.g., SiC/SiC) and inert matrix fuel systems are under development for future fission reactors while uses of ceramics in fusion reactor systems will be both functional (such as the ceramic superconductors in the magnet systems for controlling the plasma) and structural in various locations outside of the first wall in magnetic confinement fusion. Finally, the importance of thermodynamics in severe conditions and the need for accurate thermodynamics databases are highlighted.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUltra-High Temperature Ceramics: Materials for Extreme Environment Applications
    Number of pages25
    ISBN (Electronic)9781118700853
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2014


    • Composite Fuels
    • Inert matrix fuels
    • MAX phases
    • Nuclear
    • Nuclear thermodynamics
    • UHTC


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