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Nuclear Researchers Receive Energy Funding

Nuclear Researchers Receive Energy Funding

Three nuclear engineering researchers at The Ohio State University received $2.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to support their research in nuclear energy.

Jinsuo Zhang received two $800,000 grants and Xiadong Sun received one $800,000 grant. Both Zhang and Sun are associate professors in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Raymond Cao, assistant professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, received $242,000 for equipment to advance nuclear facilities.

Jinsuo Zhang received $800,000 each for two research projects. The first project, titled “Studies of Lanthanide Transport in Metallic Nuclear Fuels,” will look at the interactions between nuclear fuel reactors and the cladding, the steel capsule that holds the fuel. Zhang is specifically examining lanthanides, one of the rare earth groups, which are byproducts of the fission process that creates nuclear energy. When these byproducts come in contact with the cladding, they form alloys which can damage the cladding. Through this research, Zhang is hoping to collect data on how to avoid lanthanide diffusion to this interface, or fuel-cladding chemical interactions. The type of reactor that Zhang is researching is still in the development stages and not commercially in use, so this research will help advance the field.

Zhang’s second project is “Rare Earth Electrochemical Property Measurements and Phase Diagram Development in a Complex Molten Salt Mixture for Molten Salt Recycle.” Rare earth elements are radioactive waste; Zhang will be researching the process in which these waste products are disposed, specifically pyroprocessing. Molten salt is used in pyroprocessing because of its high irradiation, resistance and ability to process hot fuel. Zhang plans to collect fundamental data on separating the molten salt and radioactive waste in order to recycle the molten salt for further use. Both of these projects are on a three year timeline that started in October 2014.

Sun’s funding allows for continuation of previous research projects. The new project, titled “Experimental Investigation and CFD Analysis of Steam Ingress Accidents in HTGRs,” examines the dangers of water leaking into nuclear fuel in helium reactors, which could occur due to tube ruptures in nuclear reactors and result in a variety of problems. Sun plans to investigate possible accidents experimentally and, with data collected in his research, help advance this type of reactor for commercial use. Sun’s research is also on a three year timeline that started in October 2014.

Cao’s grant project, “Equipment for Education, Training, and Research in Advanced Instrumentation and Control at The Ohio State University,” will be used to improve education on nuclear energy. This grant will allow the Nuclear Engineering Program to improve research and education through enhancing the instrumentation, including sensor evaluation and material preparation, sensor tests, license expansion for a nuclear power plant stimulator and instrumentation for an existing high-temperature fluoride test facility.

This funding will advance not only nuclear engineering technologies, but will expand research and education at Ohio State. The data collected, experiments conducted and hands-on experience with advanced instrumentation will prove highly valuable to our students and researchers.

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Jinsuo Zhang,

Xiadong Sun,

Raymond Cao, 

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