Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Advanced Fuels Campaign

Los Alamos researchers develop new nuclear fuels through close coordination of theoretical, experimental, and modeling efforts.

  • advanced nuclear fuel R&D

    Expertise and facilities for advanced nuclear fuel R&D.

  • nuclear fuel materials

    Capabilities found nowhere else for handling and imaging nuclear fuel materials.


  • fuel development challenges

    Researchers with a proven track record of solving nuclear fuel development challenges.

Get Expertise  

  • Technical Lead Ceramic Fuels Development Fuel Cycle Research & Development Advanced Fuels Campaign
  • Ken McClellan
  • Email

Key Technical Contacts  

  • Fuel Properties
  • Andrew Nelson
  • Email
  • Fuel Fabrication
  • Stewart Voit
  • Email
  • Nondestructive Imaging and Characterization
  • Sven Vogel
  • Email

Removing obstacles to nuclear-generated power

Los Alamos is developing advanced nuclear fuels to

  • reduce nuclear waste by creating fuels that can recycle nuclear energy waste products in fast reactors of the future,
  • withstand loss-of-coolant accidents in light water reactors and prevent meltdowns, and
  • extend the life of today’s commercial reactors. 

A partner in the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cycle Research & Development program, Los Alamos focuses on fuel pellets. Each uranium fuel pellet, about the size of a pencil eraser, packs as much energy as 149 gallons of oil.

advanced fuel dev

Los Alamos scientists measure materials properties in the Fuels Research Laboratory; use neutrons to study advanced nuclear fuel; and develop ceramic composite fuels with enhanced accident tolerance for reactor testing.

Advanced fuel forms research and development priorities

We perform research and development for advanced fuel forms to

  • enhance performance and safety of the nation’s current and future reactors,
  • enhance proliferation resistance of nuclear fuel,
  • effectively use nuclear energy resources, and
  • address longer-term waste management challenges.

Primary R&D areas include

  • development of fuels with enhanced accident tolerance for light water reactors;
  • transmutation fuel and target development to support closed fuel cycle options;
  • development of advanced imaging and characterization techniques to improve the efficiency of fuel development and licensing; and
  • fuel fabrication process development.
Uranium-based fuels capabilities and expertise

Development of advanced fuel technologies requires coordinated efforts among multiple national laboratories with unique and specialized capabilities and expertise.

To this team, we provide expertise in

  • ceramic (oxide, nitride, carbide, silicide, and boride) fuel synthesis,
  • processing, and
  • structure/property relations with priority on uranium-based fuels.

We also provide unique capabilities for nondestructive, 3D characterization of fuel structure and chemistry for fresh and irradiated nuclear fuel.

Solving fuel development challenges
  • Fabrication of fuels for irradiation testing
  • Determination of relations between fuel structure, chemistry, and properties
  • Development of advanced techniques for fuel synthesis
  • Development of nondestructive approaches for examining new fuels
Technologies and applications: emerging, developed, or potential
  • Developed a technique to examine a fuel pellet from the inside out in three dimensions, despite it being encased in cladding, held in a fuel pin, and shielded to protect workers. Los Alamos Neutron Science Center instruments enabled this new capability.
  • Demonstrated that UO2 can undergo rapid sintering using relatively low electric fields, which can lead to efficient fabrication of new uranium-based fuels
Sponsors, funding sources, or agencies
  • U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy
  • Fuel Cycle Research and Development Program