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Mar 04, 2011

Nuclear reactor technology research dwindled away when nuclear power fell out of favor several decades ago. Renewed interest in fission-based energy means knowledge gained in past research is relevant again.

Researchers at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working with Idaho National Laboratory, revived work to fabricate high-quality coated-particle fuel for high-temperature gas reactors (HTGRs).

The ORNL researchers coated uranium-based fuel kernels with carbon and , relying in part on techniques developed years ago by scientists, many of who have long since retired. "The processes we based on their research and records worked perfectly," says ORNL researcher Rick Lowden.

After setting a new record for HTGR fuel performance, the INL and ORNL team recently received an inaugural Gordon Battelle Prize for re-establishing the coated particle fabrication technology that goes back to the First Nuclear Era.

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