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Nuclear Engineering Sweeps Up $3.2M in NEUP Awards

Nick Brown, Giovanni Pastore, Jamie Coble, and Brian Wirth.

Left to right: Nick Brown, Giovanni Pastore, Jamie Coble, and Brian Wirth

Several faculty in the Department of Nuclear Engineering have been awarded grants from the US Department of Energy totaling $3.2 million through the $48.8 million given through the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP). This year, the program supports 69 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 27 states.

The NEUP seeks to maintain US leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.

This year’s grants include three led by Associate Professor Nick Brown and one led by Research Associate Professor Giovanni Pastore.

Grant 1

Design and intelligent optimization of the thermal storage and energy distribution for the TerraPower Molten Chloride Fast Reactor in an Integrated Energy System

  • Associate Professor Nick Brown—PI
  • Associate Professor, Southern Company Faculty Fellow, and Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Studies and Service, Jamie Coble—Co-PI

Amount: $800,000

Objective: To explore the application of advanced reactors within Integrated Energy Systems, use extensive existing data from UIUC for model development and validation, and extend the predictions to larger grids and commercial applications.

Grant 2

Safety Implications of High Burnup Fuel for a 2-Year PWR Fuel Cycle

  • Associate Professor Nick Brown—PI

Amount: $800,000

Objective: To perform safety analysis of high burnup fuel for a Westinghouse 4-Loop Pressurized Water Reactor. The work aims to identify potential opportunities and gaps for high burnup fuel by utilizing both well-established and modern methodologies to model reactor physics, thermal-hydraulics, and plant system-level response that ultimately provide feedback to fuel performance analysis.

Grant 3

Fuel Cycle Research and Development

  • Associate Professor Nick Brown—PI
  • Associate Professor Giovanni Pastore—Co-PI

Amount: $800,000

Objective: This project will enhance the prediction of thermo-mechanical fuel-to-coolant heat transfer under transient conditions by using a coupled analysis and experiment approach. The effort is relevant to both high-burnup (> 62GWd/t) fuel applications and Accident Tolerant Fuel.

Grant 4

Modeling high-burnup LWR fuel behavior under normal operating and transient conditions

Fuel Cycle Research and Development

  • Associate Professor Giovanni Pastore—PI
  • Governor’s Chair Professor Brian Wirth—Co-PI

Amount: $800,000

Objective: To develop a high-burnup light water reactor fuel modeling capability to implement in the BISON code that would enable the accurate fuel rod behavior simulation during normal operation and design basis accidents, as wells as the identification of the rod life-limiting factors. Mechanistic engineering models will be developed for key phenomena, in particular, high burnup structure evolution, fuel fragmentation, and fission gas release. Traditional and accident tolerant fuels will be considered.

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