A composite nuclear fuel pellet comprises a composite body including a UO2 matrix and a plurality of high aspect ratio particies dispersed therein, where the high aspect ratio particies have a thermal conductivity higher than that of the UO2 matrix. A method of making a composite nuclear fuel pellet includes combining UO2 powder with a predetermined amount of high aspect ratio particles to form a combined powder, the high aspect ratio particles having a thermal conductivity higher than that of the UO2 powder; mixing the combined powder in a solvent to disperse the high aspect ratio particles in the UO2 powder; evaporating the solvent to form a dry mixture comprising the high aspect ratio particles dispersed in the UO2 powder; pressing the dry mixture to form a green body; and sintering the green body to form the composite fuel pellet.
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.