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[en] Highlights: • CeO_2 is presented as a surrogate material for UO_2 to study nuclear fuel. • Powder-metallurgy methods are applied to fabricate CeO_2 pellets with controlled porosity. • An optimization of the fabrication parameters is established. • Microstructural and tribo-mechanical characterizations are performed. • Properties are compared to those of the nuclear fuel. - Abstract: Cerium Oxide, CeO_2, has been shown as a surrogate material to understand irradiated Mixed Oxide (MOX) based matrix fuel for nuclear power plants due to its similar structure, chemical and mechanical properties. In this work, CeO_2 pellets with controlled porosity have been developed through conventional powder-metallurgy process. Influence of the main processing parameters (binder content, compaction pressure, sintering temperature and sintering time) on porosity and volumetric contraction values has been studied. Microstructure and physical properties of sintered compacts have also been characterized through several techniques. Mechanical properties such as dynamic Young's modulus, hardness and fracture toughness have been determined and connected to powder-metallurgy parameters. Simulation of nuclear fuel after reactor utilization with radial gradient porosity is proposed.