This week, reactor staff and students celebrated 60 years of operation at the Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility. The RCF first achieved criticality on August 26, 1956. At the time it was owned by the American Locomotive Company. Since 1963, RPI has been using this unique asset for research, teaching, and training.
Learn more about the RCF here and here.
Here’s to the years of research and teaching yet to come!
RPI students have the opportunity to earn a Senior Reactor Operator license at the RCF
Trainee at the control panel
Jaron inspecting the reactor core and tank
Critical at exactly one Watt
Jaron Senecal has been awarded a Second Place prize in the Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies. Jaron’s award is in the Open Competition in the category of Nuclear Science and Engineering. His award-winning research paper, “A Modified Tightly Coupled Method for Reactor Transient Simulations,” was presented at the Physics of Reactors (PHYSOR) Conference in May 2016.
In order to be successful and retain its leadership role in nuclear technologies, the United States must foster creativity and breakthrough achievements to develop tomorrow’s nuclear technologies. The Department of Energy has long recognized that university students are an important source of breakthrough solutions and a key component in meeting its long-term goals. The Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards program was developed for this purpose.
For more information on the Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards program, click here.
Several of Dr. Ji’s students have won this award in previous years: Elise, Andrew, and Chris.
The biennial Physics of Reactors (PHYSOR) conference was held in Sun Valley, Idaho from May 1 to 6. The NEAMS research group was very active at the conference. Dr. Ji was the lead session organizer for the Multiphysics Reactor Simulations technical track which consisted of over 30 presentations. Chris Morrison and Jaron Senecal presented their papers in this technical track. Chris presented “Coupled Neutronics and Heat Transfer in Accident Tolerant Composite Matrix Nuclear Fuels.” Jaron’s presentation was titled “A Modified Tightly Coupled Method for Reactor Transient Simulations.” Former NEAMS member Andrew Pavlou presented his work, “Verification of the On-the-Fly Thermal Scattering Sampling Method for Bound Hydrogen in Light Water.”
Chris Morrison and Jaron Senecal earned their Senior Reactor Operator licenses at RPI’s Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility (RCF). The RCF is low-power (less than 15 Watts) reactor used for research and teaching the Critical Reactor Laboratory course. This new group of licensees will help ease the staffing requirements of growing research and pedagogical activities.
On November 6, Andrew Pavlou successfully defended his dissertation, “An Adaptive-in-Temperature Method for On-the-Fly Sampling of Thermal Neutron Scattering Data in Continuous-Energy Monte Carlo Codes.” Andrew is Dr. Ji’s third student to receive a Ph.D. in three years. Dr. Pavlou received his Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan in 2011 after earning his Bachelor’s Degree from RPI in 2009. He will begin working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in January. Read more about Andrew here.
This year the American Nuclear Society’s Winter Meeting was held in Washington D.C. Andrew presented “The Temperature Zoning Method for the On-the-Fly Thermal Scattering Sampling Procedure” and Jaron presented a “Comparison of Novel Multiphysics Coupling Methods in MOOSE.” Along with plenty of good technical presentations, several panels discussed the role of nuclear power in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This fit nicely into the theme of the meeting “Nuclear: The Foundation of Sensible Policy for Energy, Economy, and the Environment.”
Chris Morrison attended the Fuel Cycle Technologies Meeting in Idaho Falls. He presented a poster titled, “Fault Tolerant Composite Matrix Fuels for Terrestrial and Space Applications.”
Congratulations to Dr. Wei Ji, director of NEAMS, who has been granted tenure by the Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering Department of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Ji came to RPI in 2008 as an assistant professor and began the Nuclear Engineering Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) research group.
Read more about Professor Ji here.
Andrew Pavlou presented his research at M&C 2015, the annual Joint International Conference on Mathematics and Computation (M&C), Supercomputing in Nuclear Applications (SNA) and the Monte Carlo (MC) Method. The conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee from April 19-23. His presentation was titled, “Implementation of a Least Squares Temperature Fit of the Thermal Scattering Law in MCNP6.”
NEAMS members Andrew Pavlou, Chris Morrison, and Jaron Senecal participated in this year’s ANS Student Conference at Texas A&M University. Chris was a Current Events in Space Nuclear panelist. Jaron presented “Comparison of Coupling Strategies for Solving a Multiphysics Boundary Value Problem Using MOOSE” in the Mathematics and Computation Division. In the same technical track, Andrew presented “A Study of the Frequency Spectrum of Thermal Excitations for On-the-Fly Monte Carlo Thermal Scattering Sampling,” which earned Best Paper.
Gig ‘em Aggies!
A tour of the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station was organized as part of the conference.