MIT research teams have received funding through five separate Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) grants.
A team led by Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) researchers Mujid Kazimi, principal investigator, and Kord Smith, co-principal investigator, received $3 million over three years for their project, “Development of Accident Tolerant Fuel Options For Near Term Applications.” Researchers will develop computational tools to evaluate accident tolerant fuel (ATF) options for near-term applications. The computational tools will be predominantly developed under the Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation framework and will include RattleSNake, MARMOT, BISON and RELAP-7. These codes will be further enhanced in order to model ATF options. The integrated research project involves two industry collaborators (AREVA and Anatech), the University of Wisconsin, Texas A&M University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Idaho National Laboratory. Collaborators from NSE are: research scientists Koroush Shirvan and Thomas McKrell, assistant professor Michael Short, and professor Jacopo Buongiorno.
Short also won an NEUP research and development grant for $800,000 for his work, titled, “Multilayer Composite Fuel Cladding for LWR Performance Enhancement and Severe Accident Tolerance.” Short and his team will develop, manufacture, and weld a new multimetallic layered composite (MMLC) for enhanced severe accident tolerance and manufacturability in light water reactors (LWR). Layers of stainless steel (facing the coolant) and Zircaloy (facing the fuel) will be separated by barrier layers of Chromium and Niobium elements. Severe accident testing in 1200 Celsius steam, LWR autoclave testing, and ion irradiation studies will demonstrate the MMLC’s microstructural stability. In addition, Short will receive $200,000 through a collaboration with Texas A&M on corrosion testing of Titanium nitride-coated Zircaloy in PWR water (using the Short Lab’s CRUD loop) and molten sodium.
MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab’s Lin Wen Hu and David Carpenter are part of the team led by Oregon State University, which received a grant to work on a project, titled, “Computational and Experimental Benchmarking for Transient Fuel Testing.” Researchers will perform a benchmark of the Transient Reactor Facility located at the Idaho National Laboratory. This benchmark will include two steady state neutronic benchmark problems and two transient benchmark problems. It will include the design, construction, and utilization of a full-scale representation of an in-pile flow loop prototype for Argonne National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test Facility, and numerical benchmarking against the experimental data gained from the experiment.
Finally, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s Michael Demkowicz, an associate professor, will collaborate with researchers at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln on a project, titled, “Radiation tolerance and mechanical properties of nanostructured amorphous-ceramic/metal composites.” The NEET award for just under $1 million supports the team, which will use a non-traditional approach to design amorphous-ceramic and metal composites for service in extreme irradiation environments. Rather than try to prevent microstructure changes in polycrystalline aggregates, researchers will evolve composite systems, where one of the constituents is intentionally synthesized in a non-crystalline or “amorphous” state. These materials may serve as the basis for developing a new class of structural materials with unprecedented resistance to radiation.
In 2015, the DOE is awarding approximately $31 million to 43 university-led nuclear energy projects, approximately $13 million for four Integrated Research Projects, and nine infrastructure support awards through the NEUP. The DOE is also awarding over $8.5 million to support 10 nuclear energy projects through the NEET program.