Nuclear reactors produce 20% of the electrical power in the United States and represent a viable carbon-reducing energy source for future electrical production. Current reactors use uranium dioxide as fuel, which undergoes internal structural changes as it is used—mainly from radiation effects and the formation of fission products. For operational safety and modeling accident behavior, it is imperative to understand these changes in mechanical properties because failure of the fuel rod can lead to release of radioactive material. Furthermore, this understanding could lead to longer fuel lifetimes, improving the efficiency of reactors.
SCIENCE & INNOVATION