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March 7, 2016

UW-Madison students win second place in national nuclear competition

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A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison nuclear engineering students took second place in the American Nuclear Society’s competition at the 2015 ANS winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

The team’s entry in the undergraduate category of the national competition came out of their senior design class—NEEP 412: Nuclear Reactor Design. The students—Kazi Ahmed, Richard Rolland and Ian Jentz—investigated a sodium-cooled integral supercritical carbon-dioxide reactor, which they called SCISCOR.

The team’s goal was to design a reactor with a high power output that could run on fuel that is reprocessed from light water reactor waste, or from nuclear weapons, while breeding more fuel for continued operation—ideally for up to 10 years without removing fuel elements. Ahmed says that normally reprocessing nuclear weapons presents a proliferation risk, but the team designed a reactor that only needs its fuel to be chemically processed and does not require isotope separation. SCISCOR can use discharge plutonium, without enrichment, from light water reactors or even itself, Ahmed says.

Out of all the student projects in the design course, the engineering physics department selected the SCISCOR team to represent UW-Madison in the ANS competition. The students presented their work at the ANS winter meeting, competing against a team from Texas A&M in the finals. Although the UW-Madison students ended up finishing in second place, Ahmed, who is now a nuclear engineering graduate student at UW-Madison, says he’s proud of what the team accomplished with SCISCOR.

Adam Malecek
3/7/2016