Doped Pellets

image of fuel pellets piled up.

Doped pellets is one of the three near-term technologies being persued by the nuclear fuel vendors.

Currently, fuel vendors are researching and testing fuel pellets that mix other materials, known as dopants, into the pellet during the manufacturing process. These dopants change the physical properties of the resulting fuel pellet. Fuel vendors claim that the possible advantages of "doped" pellets over existing designs include:

  • Reduced rigidity of the fuel pellet to reduce the risk of cladding damage, which may support more flexible plant operations
  • Increased ceramic grain size to promote fission gas retention within the fuel pellet, which may decrease the radioactive gasses that would be released during a postulated accident.

Doped pellets have already been approved by the NRC for boiling water reactors for fuels from Global Nuclear Fuels – Americas and Framatome. Doped pellets have also recently been batch loaded by reactor licensees, such as Brunswick Steam Electric Plant, Units 1 and 2.

Westinghouse and Framatome are currently developing doped pellets for pressurized water reactors, and as a part of that development, lead test assemblies containing doped pellets have been inserted into U.S. power reactors.

Doped pellets-related licensing actions received by the NRC can be found on the ATF-related licensing actions webpage.