MATRICY: Matrix Engineered TRISO Compacts Enabling Advanced Reactor Fuel Cycles

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Stony Brook, New York
Project Term:
06/10/2022 - 06/09/2025

Critical Need:

The next generation of advanced nuclear reactors (ARs) is currently being developed to enhance the safety, reduce the cost, and increase the efficiency of nuclear power generation, which is important to meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. Challenges associated with disposal pathways of waste, such as used nuclear fuel (UNF), however, threaten AR development and deployment. ONWARDS seeks to develop and demonstrate breakthrough technologies that will facilitate a 10x reduction in AR waste volume generation or repository footprint. In addition, ONWARDS aims to advance development of high-performance AR waste forms while maintaining exemplary safeguards standards and global back-end costs in the accepted range of $1/megawatt-hour.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Stony Brook University aims to significantly reduce compact reactor waste via improved fuel utilization and reduced uranium loading. The team’s solution is a novel microencapsulated fuel form leveraging halide salt sintering of magnesium oxide (MgO), developed under ARPA-E’s MEITNER program to enable advanced moderator technologies with enhanced neutronic performance and temperature stability as a replacement for graphite. Stony Brook will extend the technology to further enhance fuel utilization while addressing the back-end of the fuel cycle by fabricating a low-waste and repository-ready TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) fuel form in which (1) the graphite fuel “matrix” is replaced by the MgO technology and (2) the TRISO-bearing inert matrix fuel is deconsolidated to low-level waste and intact TRISO micro-encapsulations, which may reconsolidated to further increase utilization and deplete transuranic loading or be sequestered to high-level waste.

Potential Impact:

By identifying and addressing challenges at the back-end of the fuel cycle before the deployment of future AR technologies, ONWARDS will:


Support the growth of advanced nuclear energy with safe and sustainable domestic fuel stocks.


Play a vital role in significantly reducing GHG emissions, proactively mitigate the disposal impact of AR UNF with integrated non-proliferation safeguards, and provide transformative solutions to improve the management and disposal of radioactive waste and UNF.


Complement ARPA-E’s existing nuclear energy research portfolio, such as the MEITNER and GEMINA programs in AR R&D, further ensuring the commercial viability of innovative new ARs.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Robert Ledoux
Project Contact:
Prof. Jason Trelewicz
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Tennessee
Saint-Gobain Corporation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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