A study on induction plasma shape forming with yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) was conducted as part of an effort to develop a new method for producing nuclear fuel. YSZ was selected because its melting point is similar to that of UO2. Nuclear fuel pellets were made using a large (70 mm) induction plasma flame that sprays more than 100 pellets simultaneously and a small (10 mm) supersonic plasma flame that produces one pellet at a time. Process optimization for the large induction plasma flame was done based on chamber pressure, plasma plate power, powder spraying distance, sheath gas composition, probe position, and particle size. The best results were 97.11% theoretical density (TD) for 5-mm thick pellets. For the single pellet approach, densities as high as 99% TD have been obtained in 12-mm thick free-standing pellets.

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