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NERS faculty receive $5.1M in DOE funding awards

The awards will support our research in compact heat exchangers, SPn transport in advanced reactors, and irradiation creep mechanisms.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $61 million to support 74 projects. The U-M Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS) has received $5.1 million in funding for three projects to advance nuclear technology. The department is also collaborating on three more projects with $8.7 million in funding. The awards are through two DOE programs: the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) and  Integrated Research Projects (IRPs). 

“As a former professor, I know firsthand the huge impact of stable support for emerging leaders in the scientific fields,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff. “It allows early-career researchers and educators to start solving big challenges right away, carry their work forward, and share that knowledge to make a real difference in the world.” 

According to the Office of Nuclear Energy, the projects will help move the nation closer toward its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 by expanding access to nuclear energy—the nation’s largest source of clean power. 

​Advancing Diffusion Bonding for Compact Heat Exchangers

NERS PI: Prof. Todd Allen

Amount: ​$4,000,000

DOE Program: Integrated Research Projects

Collaborators: Prof. Fei Gao (NERS), Mark Anderson, Mohamed Elbakhschwan and Ian Jentz (UW), Jim Stubbins (Illinois), William Nollet (Fort Lewis), Ryann Rupp (INL), Mark Messner (ANL), John Shingledecker (EPRI), Robert Keating, Suzanne McKillop (MPR)

​This project will provide scientific understanding to optimize the diffusion bonding process to be used in creating compact heat exchangers.  Additionally, it will develop acceptance criteria for bonding processes that could be implemented by the ASME BPVC committees. These results will inform future code cases for the use of these compact heat exchangers.

Fast and Rigorous Methods for Multiphysics SPn Transport in Advanced Reactors

NERS PI: Prof. Brendan Kochunas

Amount: $600,000

DOE Program: NEUP R&D: Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS)

Collaborators: Prof. Brian Kiedrowski (NERS), Krishna Garikipati (University of Michigan), Yeon Sang Jung (Argonne National Laboratory), Thomas Evans and Steven Hamilton (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Michael Hackemack and Andrew Pavlou (Naval Nuclear Laboratory)

This project proposes to perform rigorous theoretical and numerical analysis of the Generalized SPn method and underlying cross-section models to enable a fast and robust multiphysics low-order transport capability for advanced reactors. This includes 5 major tasks focused on the efficient discretization and solution of the GSPn equations, numerical analysis of XS models having multiphysics and depletion, analysis of equivalence factors, improved MC estimators, and several V&V applications of the methods.

Accelerated irradiation creep testing coupled with self-adaptive accelerated molecular dynamics simulations for scalability analysis

NERS PI: Prof. Gary Was

Amount: $500,000

DOE Program: NEUP R&D: Crosscutting Technologies

Collaborators: Prof. Fei Gao, Prof. Kevin Field, Priyam Patki (NERS)

The goal of the proposed work is to accelerate traditional irradiation creep using instrumented in-situ ion irradiation creep and long-time molecular dynamics simulations to accelerate traditional neutron irradiation creep testing. This goal will be accomplished by coupling a novel ion beam flux jump test using tapered creep specimens and self-adaptive accelerated molecular dynamics. The outcome is a rapid, low-cost accelerated method to determine the fundamental irradiation creep mechanisms.

NERS-Supported Projects

Understanding of ATF Cladding Performance under Radiation using MITR

PI: David Carpenter (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Amount: $5,000,000

DOE Program: Integrated Research Projects

Collaborators: Koroush Shirvan (MIT), Prof. Gary Was and Prof. Kevin Field (NERS), Arthur Motta

(Pennsylvania State University), Peng Xu (Idaho National Laboratory), Sean Gray (Framatome), Andrew Hoffman (GE Research), Edward Lahoda and Zeses Karoutas (Westinghouse), Lucas Borowski (General Atomics), Farhad Mohammadi-Koumleh (Ceramic Tubular Products), Martin Ševeček (Czech Technical University)

The objective of this proposal is to study ATF (Accident Tolerant Fuel) Cladding performance under radiation in collaboration with leading institutions and all major US ATF vendors. The project will provide unique hands-on training for the next generation of nuclear engineers on nuclear fuel R&D, which is at the heart of nuclear energy technology development.

Integrating socially led co-design into consent-based siting of interim storage facilities

PI: Kuhika Gupta (University of Oklahoma)

Amount: $2,923,510

DOE Program: Integrated Research Projects

Collaborators:  Hank Jenkins-Smith, Carol Silva, and Joseph Ripberger (OU), Prof. Todd Allen, Aditi Verma, and Denia Djokić (NERS), Shanna Daly (University of Michigan), Paul Wilson and Dominique Brossard (UW), Ani TerMkrtchyan (NMSU), Joe Carter, Nicholas DiNunzio, Elisabeth Graffy, and Kevin Kautzky (PNNL)

This project explores a qualitatively different approach to engaging with potential host communities (PHCs) about siting interim storage facilities (ISFs). This new approach engages with PHCs to explore the implications of partnering on co-design of a prospective facility with project engineers. The process will be a collaborative engagement between community representatives and project engineers, with both groups learning from each other as they jointly pursue an effective ISF siting process.

Engaging Wyoming Communities in an Environmental Justice Approach for Advanced Nuclear Energy Facility Siting

PI: Rachael Budowle (University of Wyoming)

Amount: $800,000

DOE Program: NEUP R&D: Reactor Concepts Research and Development and Demonstration (RCRD&D)

Collaborators: Denia Djokić, Aditi Verma (NERS) Tara Righetti, L. Steven Smutko, Matthew Henry, Temple Stoellinger (University of Wyoming)

TerraPower’s and PacifiCorp’s plan to site a Natrium™ advanced nuclear reactor demonstration project at a retiring coal-fired plant in Wyoming presents a unique, timely, empirical context for applied community-based environmental justice research with communities, developers, and other elite stakeholders. The proposed ethnographic, collaborative, and legal analyses will inform an adaptable, justice-based, community-engaged process for emerging and advanced nuclear energy technology siting.

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