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NSE students win NEUP awards

Three graduate and one undergraduate student receive prizes from the Nuclear Energy University Programs
From left: Michael Pantano, Andrew Richenderfer, Jonathan Walsh, Vincent Kindfuller
From left: Michael Pantano, Andrew Richenderfer, Jonathan Walsh, Vincent Kindfuller

Four students in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering have received awards from the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP). Michael Pantano, Andrew Richenderfer and Jonathan Walsh are among 31 graduate students across the nation who were awarded 2013 NEUP fellowships, while NSE’s Vincent Kindfuller received an undergraduate NEUP scholarship.

Walsh is working with Associate Professor Benoit Forget and Professor Kord Smith in the Computational Reactor Physics Group. His research is on the development of Monte Carlo methods for neutron transport and reactor physics simulations. A particular area of recent interest is improving the computational efficiency of stochastic treatments of epithermal neutron scattering from resonant nuclei. Walsh works primarily with the OpenMC particle transport code.

Richenderfer is working with Associate Professor Jacopo Buongiorno and Dr. Thomas McKrell to develop new techniques in infrared (IR) thermography to study boiling heat transfer. His research involves the use of high-speed IR and visible light cameras to image bubble growth, which lasts on the order of milliseconds. The specific goal is to demonstrate an approach in which the temperature distribution and the liquid/vapor distribution on the boiling surface are measured simultaneously. This approach can ultimately enable a more comprehensive understanding of boiling heat transfer mechanisms, to enable advanced models and greater efficiency and safety margins for nuclear reactors.

Pantano is working with Professor Mujid Kazimi to investigate the cladding material in accident tolerant fuels (ATF). In a LOCA scenario, high temperature steam may react with the cladding, which then experiences thermal stresses created when cold water is pumped into the core to keep the fuel cool. These two processes weaken the cladding, possibly causing fuel failures, and therefore must be well understood before new cladding materials can be used in a reactor. Pantano is testing composite SiC and coated ZIRLO metal cladding as ATF candidates.

Each NEUP graduate fellow will receive $50,000 annually over the next three years in addition to a summer internship at a National Laboratory.

NSE sophomore Kindfuller is working with Professor Neil Todreas to research security concerns for an Offshore Small Modular Reactor (OSMR). He is helping determine the required security forces and arrangements that will be needed to provide security to a small, 250MW floating reactor, as part of the second stage of a proposed design being developed by Buongiorno, Todreas and Golay. Kindfuller will receive $5,000 to help cover the cost of his education over the next year.

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