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December 19, 2022

Explore Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics faculty advisors and research

Written By: Samantha Vold

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The Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is home to the Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics (NEEP) graduate program. For an overview of department research focus areas, please visit the Engineering Physics research page. Additionally, you can watch the included videos below for an overview of our Plasma and Nuclear research programs, respectively.

Identifying potential faculty advisors who perform research aligned with your interests will help ensure you are a good fit for the department. To learn more about our individual faculty members and their research, check out the following lab and project overviews:

Pegasus Team Photo

PEGASUS-III is a magnetic confinement fusion experiment sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. The research group focuses on the unique features of an extremely low aspect ratio spherical tokamak (ST) that enable world-relevant fusion and plasma studies in a university-based experiment. We are embarking on a major facility transformation with a new facility, PEGASUS-III, to study innovation in plasma startup techniques in an effort to reduce cost and complexity of future fusion reactors. Working in our group, graduate students gain a hands-on experimentalist’s perspective – each graduate student is typically responsible for a major subsystem, diagnostic or research thrust.

Link to research website – https://pegasus.ep.wisc.edu

The HEATransfer and Safety analysis (HEATS) laboratory is part of the Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Prof. Juliana P. Duarte.

Led by Prof. Ben Lindley, the Reactor Technology Integration Group (ReTI) performs research and development in support of advanced nuclear reactors. Our research interests include:

  • Design and analysis of advanced nuclear reactors, with emphasis on core design
  • Reactor physics and multiphysics methods development
  • Flexible operation of nuclear reactors: Integrated Energy Systems, cogeneration, load-following, advanced power conversion cycles
  • Market and economic context for advanced nuclear power
  • Fuel cycle analysis
  • Uncertainty quantification, reduced order modelling and data assimilation

Please do reach out if you are interested in any of these areas: lindley2@wisc.edu

Current Projects

Integrated Solar & Nuclear Cogeneration of Electricity & Water using the sCO2 Cycle

We are working with a multi-disciplinary team at UW-Madison, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Westinghouse to design and model an Integrated Energy System for co-generation of electricity and clean water (through desalination).

We are interested in how we can combine Concentrating Solar Power and Advanced Nuclear Reactors (in our case, LFR) to maximize the benefits of both and best variable electricity demand. Concentrating Solar Power production varies with the sun, and nuclear power is most economic when generating all the time, so we look at ways to use energy storage and co-produce clean water to make best use of available power. The sCO2 cycle can improve efficiency, and also allows us to make use of low temperature co-generation to produce clean water without compromising electricity production.

Solar and Nuclear Integration

 

Innovative Enhanced Automation Control Strategies for Multi-unit SMRs

We are working with University of Michigan (lead), University of Tennesse-Knoxville, INL and NuScale to develop automation control strategies for multi-unit SMRs, in particular the NuScale SMR (which consists of up to 12 modules at a single site).

Together, we will develop a hierarchy of automation control strategies for Flexible Power Operation (FPO). This entails innovative work in the area of automation for control of systems necessary for providing (1) supervisory control for load following, (2) tactical control for prognostic health management (PHM), and (3) strategic control for the operation of multiple units at a single site. Developing a link between PHM and FPO maneuvers enables optimized operation to support system and component longevity.

nullAutomation Control Diagram

The Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group’s (CNERG) [*] aims to foster the development of new generations of nuclear engineers and scientists through the development and deployment of open and reliable software tools for the analysis of complex nuclear energy systems.  CNERG core values in pursuing this aim include a welcoming, inclusive & healthy community, and open, reproducible & maintainable software.

CNERG continues to develop and support a number of open source software products:

  • The Svalinn suite, including DAGMC, for modeling radiation transport and activation in complex geometries
  • The Cyclus fuel cycle simulator for studying flows of nuclear material and facility operation in a complex nuclear fuel cycle, including support for nuclear non-proliferation analysis
  • The PyNE toolkit that supports common elements of nuclear engineering simulation, including the above

The development of these tools is driven by interests in two primary areas:

Nuclear analysis for complex geometries, including:
  • Fusion blanket and power plants
  • Accelerator
  • Irradiation experiments
Particle flux in ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) using DAG-MCNP6
Techno-political analysis of nuclear futures, including:
  • Nuclear security and non-proliferation
  • Advanced fuel cycles
  • Micro-reactor deployment
Material Flows in Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle

In 2022, students are specifically sought to support research in the following areas[**]:

  • Modeling of nuclear facility signatures for non-proliferation (MTV Consortium)
    • Develop and refine models of individual nuclear facilities to simulate the signatures that might be detected in the real world
    • Confirm appropriate time and physics fidelity
  • Data science and machine learning for nuclear non-proliferation (ETI Consortium)
    • Apply new/existing data science algorithms to new/existing data sets
    • Develop a framework to facilitate this

[*] CNERG is pronounced like the English word “synergy”

[**] Due to constraints of the funding, these students must be US citizens or Permanent Residents