Texas A&M researchers identify key factors of radiation damage to reactors

November 22, 2021, 7:07AMNuclear News
[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE] A comparison between MOOSE results and the analytical solutions for the fractions of point defects in an irradiated spherical Ni grain with a 500 nm radius. The grain boundary/surface at x = 500 nm is assumed perfect and neutral. (Source: From Frontiers in Materials paper "Surface and Size Effects on the Behaviors of Point Defects in Irradiated Crystalline Solids")

By using a combination of physics-based modeling and advanced simulations, Texas A&M University researchers say they have found the key underlying factors that cause radiation damage to nuclear reactors, which could provide insight into designing more radiation-tolerant, high-performance materials.

Game-playing AI technique may lead to cheaper nuclear energy

January 4, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In this AI-designed layout for a boiling water reactor, fuel rods are ideally positioned around two fixed water rods to burn more efficiently. MIT researchers ran the equivalent of 36,000 simulations to find the optimal configurations. Colors correspond to varying amounts of uranium and gadolinium oxide in each rod. Image: Majdi Radaideh/MIT

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Exelon show that by turning the nuclear fuel assembly design process into a game, an artificial intelligence system can be trained to generate dozens of optimal configurations that can make each fuel rod last about 5 percent longer, saving a typical power plant an estimated $3 million a year, the researchers report.

The AI system can also find optimal solutions faster than a human and can quickly modify designs in a safe, simulated environment. The results appear in the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design.

Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

November 5, 2020, 12:19PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”