Self-propagating high temperature (combustion) synthesis (SHS) is being used to develop several synthesis and processing routes for the next generation of ceramic nuclear fuels. These fuels are based on an actinide nitride within an inert matrix. The application of SHS is particularly important in the synthesis of americium (Am) based ceramics; since the rapid heating and cooling cycles used in this process will help to minimize vaporization loss of Am, which is a major problem in synthesizing Am-based ceramics. Manganese, praseodymium, and dysprosium are being used as physical and chemical surrogates for various actinides. Actinide nitride powders produced using auto-ignition combustion synthesis (AICS) are subsequently reacted with zirconium powder using SHS to produce a final fuel pellet. This paper will discuss the research to date on the synthesis of Am-N powders as well as the production of dense Zr-Am-N pellets as a model ceramic fuel system.