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Fusion Science and Technology
NC State celebrates 70 years of nuclear engineering education
An early picture of the research reactor building on the North Carolina State University campus. The Department of Nuclear Engineering is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its nuclear engineering curriculum in 2020–2021. Photo: North Carolina State University
The Department of Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University has spent the 2020–2021 academic year celebrating the 70th anniversary of its becoming the first U.S. university to establish a nuclear engineering curriculum. It started in 1950, when Clifford Beck, then of Oak Ridge, Tenn., obtained support from NC State’s dean of engineering, Harold Lampe, to build the nation’s first university nuclear reactor and, in conjunction, establish an educational curriculum dedicated to nuclear engineering.
The department, host to the 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference, scheduled for April 8–10, now features 23 tenure/tenure-track faculty and three research faculty members. “What a journey for the first nuclear engineering curriculum in the nation,” said Kostadin Ivanov, professor and department head.
R. W. Moir, H. F. Shaw, A. Caro, Larry Kaufman, J. F. Latkowski, J. Powers, P. E. A. Turchi
Fusion Science and Technology | Volume 56 | Number 2 | August 2009 | Pages 632-640
Laser Fusion-Fission Hybrid | Eighteenth Topical Meeting on the Technology of Fusion Energy (Part 2) | dx.doi.org/10.13182/FST18-8166
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
Molten salt with dissolved uranium is being considered for the Laser Inertial Confinement Fusion Fission Energy (LIFE) fission blanket as a backup in case a solid-fuel version cannot meet the performance objectives, for example because of radiation damage of the solid materials. Molten salt is not damaged by radiation and therefore could likely achieve the desired high burnup (>99%) of heavy atoms of 238U. A perceived disadvantage is the possibility that the circulating molten salt could lend itself to misuse (proliferation) by making separation of fissile material easier than for the solid-fuel case. The molten salt composition being considered is the eutectic mixture of 73 mol% LiF and 27 mol% UF4, whose melting point is 490°C. The use of 232Th as a fuel is also being studied. (232Th does not produce Pu under neutron irradiation.) The temperature of the molten salt would be ∼550°C at the inlet (60°C above the solidus temperature) and ∼650°C at the outlet. Mixtures of U and Th are being considered. To minimize corrosion of structural materials, the molten salt would also contain a small amount (∼1mol%) of UF3. The same beryllium neutron multiplier could be used as in the solid fuel case; alternatively, a liquid lithium or liquid lead multiplier could be used. Insuring that the solubility of Pu3+ in the melt is not exceeded is a design criterion. To mitigate corrosion of the steel, are fractory coating such as tungsten similar to the first wall facing the fusion source is suggested in the high-neutron-flux regions; and in low-neutron-flux regions, including the piping and heat exchangers, a nickel alloy, Hastelloy, would be used. These material choices parallel those made for the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) at ORNL. The nuclear performance is better than the solid fuel case. At the beginning of life, the tritium breeding ratio is unity and the plutonium plus 233U production rate is ∼0.6 atoms per 14.1 MeV neutron.