Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

Fuels, Materials, and Chemistry (CASL)

Los Alamos materials scientists are aiding national efforts to improve fuel and cladding materials for next-generation nuclear reactors. 

  • nuclear reactors

    A science-based approach to developing next-generation nuclear reactors.

  • atomistic level studies

    Materials and computational science expertise for atomistic level studies.

  • nuclear fuel performance

    Revealing the core factors influencing nuclear fuel performance.

Get Expertise  

  • CASL Lead, Fuels, Materials, & Chemistry Technical Focus Area
  • David Andersson
  • Email
  • Key Technical Contact
  • Carlos Tomé
  • Email

Research advancing materials for nuclear energy

To aid development of the next generation of safer, longer-lasting, and less-expensive reactors, Los Alamos spearheads research in

  • Nuclear fuels
  • Materials
  • Chemistry

Los Alamos is a founding partner of the Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Innovation Hub established in 2010 to develop modeling and simulation technology for a virtual version of existing operating nuclear reactors.

With expertise in materials and computational science, Los Alamos leads efforts in three focus areas:

fuel-materials

Los Alamos researchers bring advanced modeling and simulation technology to the study of nuclear fuels, materials, and chemistry. Their work informs codes predicting how corrosion deposits affect reactor fuel rod performance and reliability. Through a DOE Innovation Hub, that expertise is being deployed to industry and academia.

Fuels, Materials, and Chemistry Focus Area

Cracks, chips, and corrosion in materials can adversely affect reactors and nuclear fuel performance. Industry needs a science-based, predictive understanding of such materials issues, tailored to its power plants, to prevent operational nuisances, such as fuel failures that can create expensive cleanup situations if the coolant is contaminated.

We examine the underlying factors for failures throughout the reactor core—fuel pellets, cladding, fuel pins, fuel rods, and fuel assemblies—and create high-resolution models that can be integrated into industry codes. 

We probe, at an atomistic scale, how reactor core materials are damaged under bombardment by radiation, through corrosion, or by chemical processes.

Our expertise in

  • Structure-property relations
  • Mechanical deformation
  • Chemical kinetics

allows us to address several key aspects of nuclear fuel performance. 

We deliver multi-physics, multiscale models of materials to enable CASL’s mission in addressing power uprates, higher burn-up, and life extension.

Program elements include

  • Power uprates and plant life extension
  • Engineering design and analysis
  • Science-enabling high performance computing
  • Fundamental science
  • Plant operational data
Capabilities and expertise

Los Alamos contributions in materials and multiscale research have led to accurate materials models and data, integrated into CASL’s Virtual Reactor simulation tool for science-based prediction.

The breadth of our capabilities includes

  • Multiscale modeling of materials from ab initio electronic structure to continuum
  • Radiation effects in metals and ceramics of interest to the nuclear industry
  • New algorithms to extend the time scale accessible to atomic scale simulations of material evolution
  • Combined experimental, theoretical, computational approach
Technologies and applications: emerging, developed, or potential
  • Modeling and simulation technology, developed at Los Alamos as part of CASL, is being deployed to industry and academia under a new inter-institutional agreement for intellectual property.
  • MAMBA, a Los Alamos-developed software tool, is available for research, subject to agreements through the consortium partners. MAMBA (MPO Advanced Model for Boron Analysis), a Fortran-based computer code, simulates three-dimensional crud growth along the surface of a single fuel rod.
  • Hydra-TH application is provided under an open-source license in VERA for advanced, scalable single and multiphase computational fluid dynamics simulations.
  • Los Alamos is enhancing its viscoplastic self-consistent (VPSC) code, available under an open-source license, to create the first 3D models showing how cladding deforms in specific fuel rods, enabling more detailed data for industry codes, which currently offer one-dimensional models.
Sponsors, funding sources, or agencies
  • U.S. DOE Office of Nuclear Energy

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