Nuclear Thermal Rocket (NTR) designs have received renewed interest due to their superior thermal efficiencies and a rehabilitated desire for space exploration. This has resulted in improved NTR fuel designs that have unique properties that require investigation and testing in order to be more safely designed and operated.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has recently recaptured the “composite” fuel form developed in the Rover/Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Programs of the 1960s and 1970s . The NERVA fuel elements are now being tested thermally. However, an important aspect of their successful demonstration is irradiation under relevant environments. This project, presents an examination of a few potential capsule designs that could be used in the examination of composite NTR fuels in test reactors.