13 Fabricating ceramic nuclear fuels INL fabricated uranium silicide (U3 Si2 ) pellets in the High Density Fuel (HDF) glovebox. As part of a first-of-a-kind Accident Tolerant Fuel program experiment, the pellets will be loaded into fuel rods and installed in a commercial reactor in FY 2019. This was the first successful fabrication of U3 Si2 fuel pellets at this scale, and will be the first U3 Si2 fuel to be irradiated in a commercial reactor. This expansion from previous equipment and methods represents a large step toward better processes (powder grinding, mixing, pressing, sintering) for developing nuclear fuel tests at an engineering scale. Top, fabricating uranium silicide pellets. Bottom, working with the Shielded Sample Preparation Area inside the Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory. Construction completed on specialized lab Now the same methods used to develop advanced materials for aviation and electronics industries can be applied to nuclear energy R&D. The Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory (IMCL) can receive large irradiated fuel samples, prepare them in a hot cell and transfer them to advanced equipment for microscopic characterization. It also can perform micromechanical testing, quantitative composition analysis and thermal property measurement with two focused ion beam units, shielded electron probe microanalysis, and atomic resolution characterization in a transmission electron microscope — all within the same facility.