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The division provides a forum for focused technical dialogue on thermal hydraulic technology in the nuclear industry. Specifically, this will include heat transfer and fluid mechanics involved in the utilization of nuclear energy. It is intended to attract the highest quality of theoretical and experimental work to ANS, including research on basic phenomena and application to nuclear system design.
2024 ANS Annual Conference
June 9–12, 2024
Las Vegas, NV|The Mirage
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Nuclear Science and Engineering
Fusion Science and Technology
The Sodium Reactor Experiment
In February 1957, construction was completed on the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE), a sodium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor with an output of 20 MWt. The design of theSRE had begun three years earlier in 1954, and construction started in April 1955. On April 25, 1957, the reactor reached criticality, and the SRE operated until February 1964.
If the nucleus of a heavy atom–such as uranium–absorbs a neutron, the nucleus can become unstable and split. This is called nuclear fission. Fission releases energy in the form of heat. Although fission can occur naturally, fission as encountered in the modern world is usually a deliberate man-made nuclear reaction.
Typical fission events release about two hundred million eV (200 MeV) of energy. In contrast, most chemical oxidation reactions (such as burning coal) release at most a few eV per event. So, nuclear fuel contains at least ten million times more usable energy per unit mass than does chemical fuel.
Fusion is the opposite reaction of fission. In fusion, atoms are fused together.For a fusion reaction to occur, it is necessary to bring two nuclei so close that nuclear forces become active and glue the nuclei together. Deuterium and Tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, are used in fusion reactors. Nuclear forces are small-distance forces and have to act against the electrostatic forces where positively charged nuclei repel each other. This is the reason nuclear fusion reactions occur mostly in high density, high temperature environment.
Recreating that environment is the greatest challenge to producing commercial scale fusion energy, but it’s a challenge well worth pursuing. Nuclear fusion can produce four times the amount of energy as nuclear fission.
Last modified July 14, 2022, 1:53pm CDT