Nuclear Applications for Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics and MAX Phases

William E. Lee, Edoardo Giorgi, Robert Harrison, Alexandre Maître, Olivier Rapaud

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Future nuclear reactor systems and the severe conditions under which they will operate are reviewed. Current nuclear applications of ceramics are predominantly as oxide fuels as well as ceramic/glassy waste forms, although non-oxides do find niche uses such as graphite moderators and B4C control rods. UHTCs properties of interest to the nuclear industry include that they may be fissile, and that they have high thermal conductivity, refractoriness, and phase stability. Using such properties, future nuclear ceramics will potentially include UHTCs, for example, as non-oxide fuels (U/Pu carbides and nitrides) and fuel cladding (TaC, ZrC, HfC). MAX phases may also find application as fuel cladding. Oxide and non-oxide composite (e.g., SiC/SiC) and inert matrix fuel systems are under development for future fission reactors while uses of ceramics in fusion reactor systems will be both functional (such as the ceramic superconductors in the magnet systems for controlling the plasma) and structural in various locations outside of the first wall in magnetic confinement fusion. Finally, the importance of thermodynamics in severe conditions and the need for accurate thermodynamics databases are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUltra-High Temperature Ceramics
Subtitle of host publicationMaterials for Extreme Environment Applications
EditorsWilliam G. Fahrenholtz, Eric J. Wuchina, William E. Lee, Yanchun Zhou
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Inc.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781118700853
ISBN (Print)9781118700785
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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