A fuel element for nuclear power generation made up of at least one coated UO.sub.2 fuel kernel embedded in a matrix containing Zr. The kernel and the element each having a coating that provides desired spacing and fission product barrier protection. The fuel enables the functioning and deployment of small scale nuclear reactors with a various features desired for deployment of such devices in developing nations, with limited electrical distribution infrastructure.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC0576RL01830 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.