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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.
Holly R. Trellue, Richard J. Kapernick, D. V. Rao, J. Zhang, Jack D. Galloway
Nuclear Technology | Volume 182 | Number 1 | April 2013 | Pages 26-38
Technical Paper | Fission Reactors/Fuel Cycle and Management | dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT13-A15823
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
This paper describes a new reactor concept: the Salt-cooled Modular Innovative THorium HEavy water-moderated Reactor System (SMITHERS), which addresses the goals of (a) evolving deployment needs, (b) increasing overall fuel burnup, (c) reducing proliferation risk, and (d) providing high-efficiency power generation. The reactor is modular and thus scalable from a few to hundreds of megawatts(thermal). The concept further burns used fuel from light water reactors (LWRs) without aqueous separations, reducing costs and proliferation pathways relative to current reprocessing plants. The additional burning of LWR fuel reduces proliferation risk by reducing global inventories of plutonium from used fuel in a way that does not isolate weapons-useable material and that increases the amount of power produced per ton of mined uranium. Improved fuel utilization through the potential use of thorium provides cost benefits by increasing neutron economy and enabling operation at higher efficiencies. Neutron economy is increased by using the lower neutron energies associated with large quantities of heavy water moderation and/or thorium for innovative reactor control and constant long-term power generation (i.e., sustainability). Finally, the proposed reactor also generates high-temperature coolant discharge in the form of liquid salt without coolant pressurization for external process heat applications such as oil extraction. Salt offers significant improvement over existing coolants such as light water and heavy water, which require pressurization to operate at high temperatures, adding to the cost and complexity of reactor operation. SMITHERS designs discussed in this paper either burned a full core of used fuel, ThO2 with 1.2 wt% PuO2 or other fissile material, or a combination of the two.