National research project focuses
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University researchers are leading a national effort
to ensure the safety and efficiency of the next generation of nuclear power plants.
on nuclear reactors
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has established the Institute of Thermal-Hydraulics
at Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering. With a five-year, $10 million task order
contract from the commission, a team of researchers from Purdue and several other universities will provide technical expertise and perform thermal-hydraulics and
reactor safety research for the commission. The initial phase of this contract runs
The institute will focus on developing base technology for new, sophisticated computer
programs to accurately simulate the processes that would take place in a new, advanced
type nuclear reactor. The simulations will model the behavior of the reactor under all conceivable conditions of operation, including accidents. One of the goals of
the research is to produce a new graphical user interface for the computer programs,
which will allow designers, regulators and other researchers to more easily use the
Before allowing construction of a new type of reactor in the United States, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission requires that its technology, design, operation, safety systems
and performance be thoroughly investigated.
"The team that has been assembled to carry out this research is unarguably the most
talented group of experts in this field in the world," says Mamoru Ishii, director
of the institute and a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue. "Our faculty at
Purdue, who are internationally recognized for their expertise in thermal-hydraulics, are
well prepared not only to lead the team effort but to make contributions to the research
efforts as well."
The study of thermal-hydraulics involves investigating how fluids transfer heat in
a complex system, such as a nuclear power plant. In a nuclear power plant, as in
a coal-burning plant, high-pressure steam turns the blades of a turbine, powering
a generator that creates electricity. In a nuclear reactor, the heat needed to boil the water
to produce the steam is made by splitting certain atoms of uranium in a process called
In a reactor, water is not only heated to produce steam, it also is used to cool the
reactor. In addition, water and steam often flow through the reactor system simultaneously,
a process called multiphase flow. Ishii said all of these elements and complex interactions in the advanced reactor will be thoroughly studied and then brought together
in the computer simulations.
In addition to Purdue, the institute also includes researchers from Penn State University,
the University of California, Oregon State University, University of Wisconsin, the
University of Colorado and SCIENTECH Inc., a small business with international expertise in thermal-hydraulics research.
CONTACT: Ishii, (765) 494-4587; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
Compiled by Amanda Siegfried, (765) 494-4709; e-mail, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
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