The safe and economical operation of any nuclear power system relies to a great extent, on the success of the fuel and the materials of construction. During the lifetime of a nuclear power system which currently can be as long as 60 years, the materials are subject to high temperature, a corrosive environment, and damage from high-energy particles released during fission. The fuel which provides the power for the reactor has a much shorter life but is subject to the same types of harsh environments. This article reviews the environments in which fuels and materials from current and proposed nuclear systems operate and then describes how the creation of the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility is allowing researchers from across the United States to test their ideas for improved fuels and materials.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70220-0