PITTSBURGH (September 13, 2019) — The Stephen R. Tritch Nuclear
Engineering program at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of
Engineering has received three substantial grants from the U.S. Department of
Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) totaling $2.3 million.
The awards are three of the 40 grants in 23 states issued
by the DOE, which awarded more than $28.5 million to research programs
through the NEUP this year to maintain the U.S.’s leadership in nuclear
“Nuclear energy research is a vital and growing source of
clean energy in the U.S., and we are at the forefront of this exciting field,”
says Heng Ban, PhD, R.K. Mellon Professor in Energy and director of the Stephen
R. Tritch Nuclear Engineering Program at the Swanson School of Engineering.
“These grants will enable us to collaborate with leading international experts,
conducting research that will help shape future of nuclear energy.”
titled “Advanced Online Monitoring and Diagnostic Technologies for Nuclear
Plant Management, Operation, and Maintenance,” received $1 million
and is led by Daniel Cole, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical
Engineering and Materials Science at Pitt. Taking advantage
of advanced instrumentation and big data analytics, the work will
develop and test advanced online monitoring to better operate and manage
nuclear power plants. By combining condition monitoring,
financial analysis, and supply chain models, nuclear utilities will be better
able to streamline operation and maintenance
efforts, minimize financial risk, and ensure safety.
The project “Development
of Versatile Liquid Metal Testing Facility for Lead-cooled Fast Reactor
Technology” received $800,000 and is led by Jung-Kun Lee, PhD, professor of
mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt. His work will benefit
lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) technology. Liquid lead is beneficial for this cooling
process because it is non-reactive with water and air, has a high boiling
point, poor neutron absorption and excellent heat transfer properties.
Despite these benefits, though, lead’s corrosive nature is a
critical challenge of LFR. This research would develop a versatile, high-temperature
liquid lead testing facility that would help researchers understand this
corrosive behavior to find a solution. Dr. Lee will collaborate with Dr. Ban at
Pitt, as well as researchers from Westinghouse Electric Company, Los Alamos
National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, the ENEA in Italy, and the
University of Manchester in the UK.
The project “Thermal
Conductivity Measurement of Irradiated Metallic Fuel Using TREAT” received
$500,000 and is led by Dr. Ban in collaboration with Assel Aitkaliyeva from the
University of Florida. The project will help to measure thermal conductivity
and diffusivity data in uranium-plutonium-zirconium (U-Pu-Zr) fuels using an
innovative thermal wave technique in the Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT).
The project will not only provide thermophysical properties of irradiated
U-Pu-Zr fuels, but also create a new approach for measuring irradiated, intact
Additionally, Kevin Chen, PhD, professor of electrical and
computer engineering at Pitt, will collaborate on a project that received $800,000
from the DOE, titled “Mixing of Helium with Air in Reactor Cavities Following a
Pipe Break in HTGRs” and led by Masahiro Kawaji, PhD, professor at the City
College of New York and assistant director of CUNY Energy Institute.
Maggie Pavlick, 9/13/2019
Contact: Maggie Pavlick