ATLANTA (AP) — Researchers are trying to make the fuel in nuclear power plants safer during extreme accidents.
Nuclear fuel comes in pellets about the size of a fingertip. Those pellets are stacked into rods up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) high. Each rod is wrapped in a sheath of metal alloy called cladding. During an extreme accident, the alloy can release explosive hydrogen gas and create excess heat.
Tougher cladding might give nuclear plants more time before a bad situation turns into a meltdown.
Researchers are exploring ways to protectively coat the cladding, make it self-healing or even replace it with ceramics.