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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.
Robert O. Hoover, Supathorn Phongikaroon, Michael F. Simpson, Shelly X. Li, Tae-Sic Yoo
Nuclear Technology | Volume 171 | Number 3 | September 2010 | Pages 276-284
Technical Paper | Pyro 08 Special / Reprocessing | dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT10-2A
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
The electrochemical processing of spent metallic nuclear fuel has been demonstrated by and is currently in operation at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). At the heart of this process is the Mark-IV electrorefiner (ER). This process involves the anodic dissolution of spent nuclear fuel into a molten salt electrolyte along with a simultaneous deposition of pure uranium on a solid cathode. This allows the fission products to be separated from the fuel and processed into an engineered waste form. A one-dimensional model of the Mark-IV ER has begun to be developed. The computations thus far have modeled the dissolution of the spent nuclear fuel at the anode taking into account uranium (U3+), plutonium (Pu3+), and zirconium (Zr4+). Uranium and plutonium are the two most important elements in the system, whereas zirconium is the most active of the noble metals. The model shows that plutonium is quickly exhausted from the anode, followed by dissolution of primarily uranium, along with small amounts of zirconium. The total anode potential as calculated by the model has been compared to experimental data sets provided by INL. The anode potential has been shown to match the experimental values quite well with root-mean-square (rms) values of 2.27 and 3.83% for two different data sets, where rms values closer to zero denote better fit.