Inert matrix fuel for the utilisation of plutonium
Utilising fuel resources responsibly, reducing waste volume and emissions as well as conflict potentials within the international community (non-proliferation, energy demand) are among the principles for the judgment of sustainable development. Utilising and burning plutonium in a light water reactor has been shown to be feasible for the disposition of the large amount of excess plutonium produced in today's power reactors and resulting from the disarmament efforts of the super powers. With regard to material technology aspects, efforts have concentrated on the evaluation of fabrication feasibility and on the determination of the physicochemical properties of a single phase zirconium/erbium/plutonium oxide material stabilised as a cubic solution by yttrium for plutonium and minor actinide incineration and transmutation. Due to the absence of uranium as origin for plutonium build-up, such a nuclear fuel is called Inert Matrix Fuel. Irradiation testing with a dedicated experiment in the material test reactor in Halden, Norway, is underway within the framework of the OECD-Halden Reactor Project.