IFR Metallic Fuel

A key feature of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) is its metallic alloy fuel. Metal fuel is crucial to the improved safety characteristics of the IFR, as well as to a new and much simpler fuel cycle technology.

Most reactors today use a ceramic fuel, generally uranium oxide. Compared to oxide, metal fuel has thermal conductivity about ten times higher (ceramics are usually thought of more as insulators, rather than conductors, of both electricity and heat). With high thermal conductivity, the heat generated by fission withen the fuel slug is transferred to the coolant more effectively, resulting in a much lower temperature in the center of the fuel. This is a major safety advantage. Abnormal reactor conditions involving loss of coolant flow tho the reactor core can be accommodated with little or no damage of any kind, even if normal safety systems fail to function.

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