Abilene Christian, Teledyne Brown sign contract for molten salt research reactor

July 27, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
An artist rendering of the Science and Engineering Research Center under construction at Abilene Christian University. The SERC will house the NEXT Lab's new advanced university research reactor sponsored by Natura Resources.

The first university-based molten salt research reactor (MSRR) is one step closer to reality with Abilene Christian University’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory recently signing a contract with Teledyne Brown Engineering. After considering more than a dozen engineering firms, the NEXT Lab selected Teledyne Brown to perform the front-end engineering and design work to produce the reactor on the Abilene campus. The contract was described by NEXT Lab director Rusty Towell as “a significant step into the detailed design and construction phase of this project.” The hope is that the 1-MWt MSRR will go critical in 2025.

Biden picks ANS Fellow to lead NNSA defense programs

December 16, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


President Biden yesterday announced his intent to nominate Marvin Adams, an ANS Fellow, for the position of deputy administrator for defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The announcement drew the following response from energy secretary Jennifer Granholm: “Marvin is a unique success story, having started his career at a DOE lab and now regarded as the nation’s foremost academic expert on safeguarding our nuclear stockpile. If confirmed, Marvin will work to keep our nation—and our world—safe from nuclear threats. I am deeply grateful for Marvin’s willingness to serve and look forward to his speedy confirmation.”

SMR control room simulator launched at Texas A&M

December 15, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The NuScale small modular reactor control room simulator will provide the authentic feel of being in the control room at a 12-unit SMR plant. (Photo: Rodolfo Vaghetto)

The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) has installed the NuScale small modular reactor control room simulator at the Center for Advanced Small Modular and Micro Reactors (CASMR).

TEES performs collaborative research through universities, national laboratories, and state and federal agencies with the goal of finding solutions to global technical challenges.

Texas A&M to lead isotope R&D traineeship program

December 9, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy is dedicating $2 million to the establishment of a first-of-its-kind program to train undergraduate and graduate students in isotope research and development, production, and processing. Texas A&M University will serve as the Isotope Traineeship Coordination (ITC) site, collaborating with a team of 14 colleges and universities and three national laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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.

Texas A&M researchers develop new resilient alloy

March 17, 2021, 7:05AMANS Nuclear CafeLaura Simmons

Researchers at Texas A&M University have recently demonstrated the superior performance of a new oxide-dispersion-strengthened (ODS) alloy developed for use in both fission and fusion reactors.


Lin Shao, a professor in the university’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and an ANS member, worked alongside research scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Hokkaido University to create the next generation of high-performance ODS alloys. So far, the researchers reported, the alloys are some of the strongest and best-developed metals in the field.

Details of the project were published in the February 2021 issue of the Journal of Nuclear Materials.

ORISE reports uptick in nuclear engineering master’s degrees

March 2, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

An increase in the number of master’s degrees awarded in the United States in 2019 pushed the total number of nuclear engineering degrees to its highest level since 2016, according to a study conducted by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) that surveyed 34 U.S. universities with nuclear engineering programs. The report, Nuclear Engineering Enrollments and Degrees Survey, 2019 Data, includes degrees granted between September 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019, as well as enrollments for fall 2019. It was released by ORISE in February.

Details: The 316 nuclear engineering master’s degrees awarded in 2019 represented a 21 percent increase over the 2018 total, and a 12 percent increase over the number awarded in 2017. The 194 doctoral degrees awarded in 2019 represented the second-highest level recorded since 1966.

Four universities team up to design molten salt research reactor

August 21, 2020, 12:11PMNuclear News

Undergraduate students work on the molten salt test loop at Abilene Christian University’s NEXT Lab. Photo: Jeremy Enlow/Steel Shutter Photography

Abilene Christian University (ACU) is leading a consortium called NEXTRA—the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Research Alliance—with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas at Austin. NEXTRA was formed in spring 2019 to design, license, and commission a molten salt–fueled research reactor to be hosted on ACU’s campus in the central Texas city of Abilene. ACU and its partners recently announced funding of $30.5 million over the next three years from Abilene-based Natura Resources.