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Brown Talks Accident-Tolerant Fuels with Engineering

Nicholas Brown.Associate Professor Nick Brown’s research on accident-tolerant fuels is gaining interest among those pushing for advanced reactor designs. In a recent interview with Engineering Brown talked about the return of an accident-tolerant fuel that may increase nuclear plant safety and help prevent plant disasters.

TRISO stands for TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel, and it’s of interest to nuclear engineers because it captures many of the dangerous fission products released by uranium decay. In addition to offering safety, Brown says that TRISO could help advanced reactors achieve greater size and cost efficiencies, which means plants could be smaller and cheaper.

Even though it’s been decades since TRISO was used in a reactor, Brown says the research has continued, and today’s version features upgrades.

“In the lab and in test reactors, we have been advancing this technology,” said Brown.

TRISO fuel does require more enrichment than the fuel rods in a light-water reactor, which increases the cost. However, operators will be able to get more energy out of the fuel, making the overall cost lower.

“We have been doing significant work on TRISO fuel at UT, including under a Department of Energy Integrated Research Project, where Professor Wirth is the lead PI,” said Brown. “I’m excited that UT is at the forefront of the development of this advanced fuel technology.”