A nuclear fuel element for use in water-cooled nuclear power reactors. The fuel element includes a multilayered silicon carbide cladding tube. The multilayered silicon carbide cladding tube preferably includes an inner layer and a central layer. Also, in one embodiment, the ends further include hermetically sealed end caps. The cladding tube is sized to receive a stack of individual fissionable fuel pellets. In one embodiment, the fuel pellets comprise a mixture of thorium oxide and plutonium oxide.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 Work described herein may have been supported in part Department of Energy (DOE) Grant No. DE-SC0004225. The United States Government may therefore have certain rights in the inventions.