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College of Engineering Researchers Receive Grants from DOE-NEU

Dr. Kurt Sickafus
Dr. Wes Hines
Dr. Belle Upadhyaya

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.–A proposal submitted by a research group led by Dr. Kurt Sickafus, Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, to the 2012 Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) Integrated Research Programs (IRP) Awards has been selected for a $3.5 million award for a nuclear innovation project. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which provided a total of $13 million in funding for the three university-led research teams, recently announced the award.

Researchers on the UT-led project will develop a fuel concept based on an advanced ceramic coating for Zr-alloy cladding. Cladding refers to the metallic tube that protects the fuel in a nuclear reactor from the surrounding coolant (usually water). The coated cladding will exhibit demonstrably improved performance compared to conventional Zr-alloy clad by decreasing cladding oxidation and hydrogen pickup. Collaborating institutions on the UT team include Pennsylvania State University; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Michigan; Westinghouse Electric Company; Los Alamos National Laboratory; University of Manchester; University of Oxford; University of Sheffield; and University of Huddersfield.

The university was also selected to collaborate with Georgia Tech and eleven other institutions on a $5.9 million NEUP IRP award project to develop a novel concept of a high-power light water reactor (LWR) with inherent safety features that will advance its safety level beyond that of advanced passive systems. The UT group is led by Dr. Wesley Hines, Charles P. Postelle Distinguished Professor in Nuclear Engineering and the head of the UT Department of Nuclear Engineering, and Dr. Belle Upadhyaya, a professor in the nuclear engineering department.

The NEUP programs support multifaceted projects to develop breakthroughs for the U.S. nuclear energy industry. Universities lead the three-year projects, working in collaboration with the nuclear industry, national laboratories, and international partners.

For more information on the specific awards, visit Office of Nuclear Energy.

For more information on UT College of Engineering participation, contact Kim Cowart at (865) 974-0686/