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Joining of Tungsten Cermet Nuclear Fuel

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX16CC84P
Agency Tracking Number: 156445
Amount: $125,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: H2.02
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2016
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2016-06-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2016-12-09
Small Business Information
4914 Moores Mill Road
Huntsville, AL 35811-1558
United States
DUNS: 000000000
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 John O'Dell
 (256) 851-7653
Business Contact
 Timothy McKechnie
Title: Contracts Manager
Phone: (256) 851-7653
Research Institution

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) has been identified as a critical technology needed for human missions to Mars due to its increased specific impulse (Isp) as compared to traditional chemical propulsion systems. A critical aspect of the program is to develop a robust, stable nuclear fuel. One of the nuclear fuel configurations currently being evaluated is a cermet-based material comprised of uranium dioxide (UO2) particles encased in a tungsten matrix (W). Recently, hot isostatic pressure (HIP) and spark plasma sintering (SPS) processing techniques have been evaluated for producing W cermet-based fuel elements from powder feedstocks. Although both techniques have been used successfully to produce W cermet fuel segments, the fabrication of full-size W cermet elements (>20) has proven to be difficult. As a result, the use of W cermet segments to produce a full-size W cermet fuel element is of interest. However, techniques for joining the segments are needed that will not lower the use temperature, damage the UO2 particles, or compromise the nuclear performance of the fuel. For these reasons, joining of the segments using braze or weld techniques is not desired. Therefore, diffusion bonding techniques will be developed during this investigation for producing full-size nuclear fuel rods from W cermet segments. To promote diffusion during solid state bonding, different refractory metal interfacial coatings will be evaluated.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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