Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Kader Frendi

Committee Member

Omar R. Mireles

Committee Member

Jason T. Cassibry


Uranium oxides., Nuclear fuels., Space vehicles--Propulsion systems., Nuclear rockets.


The plasma spheroidization system (PSS) is the first process in the development of a tungsten-uranium dioxide (W-UO2) ceramic-metallic (cermet) fuel for nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) propulsion. For the purposes of fissile fuel retention, UO2 spheroids ranging in size from 50 - 100 micrometers (ìm) in diameter will be encapsulated in a tungsten shell. The PSS produces spherical particles by melting angular stock particles in an argon-hydrogen plasma jet where they become spherical due to surface tension. Surrogate CeO2 powder was used in place of UO2 for system and process parameter development. Stock and spheroidized powders were micrographed using optical and scanning electron microscopy and evaluated by statistical methods to characterize and compare the spherocity of pre and post process powders. Particle spherocity was determined by irregularity parameter. Processed powders showed a statistically significant improvement in spherocity, with greater that 60% of the examined particles having an irregularity parameter of equal to or lower than 1.2, compared to stock powder.



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