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Scientists In The United States Use 3D Printing Technology To Make Uranium Silicate Nuclear Fuel
Aug 06, 2018

Nowadays, 3D printing technology has been widely used in many fields, such as medical treatment, aerospace, oil and gas, automobile and consumer goods. But not many people know that 3D printing can still be used to make nuclear fuel. Scientists from the Idaho national laboratory (INL), which combines 3D printing with conventional technology, have successfully produced nuclear fuel such as uranium silicide (U3Si2).


                     The new method can improve the economic efficiency of nuclear fuel cycle

The nuclear fuel currently used in most nuclear power plants is UO2. However, compared with that, U3Si2 has higher density and better thermal conductivity, which can improve the safety and efficiency of nuclear reactors. Therefore, the main research direction of INL is on U3Si2.


Experiment in progress

The INL study, called AMAFT, was conducted by Dr. Isabella Van Rooyen, Dr. Clemente Parga, and Ed Lahoda of Westinghouse, a power plant construction company, using grinding (a traditional method of processing uranium ores) and laser shaping 3D printing. In the experiment, INL has used this method to create a dense U3Si2 ball. The concrete step is to create a molten pool by laser first, and then mix U3Si2 and other raw material powder.