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NE Grad Studies Opinion

  1. Mar 18, 2007 #1
    I would like some opinions/advice regarding grad school. I have just been accepted into the grad program, and Im trying to figure out what would be a useful directon to take my studies. Since Id be doing my MS at the same school I earned my BS, I will not have to repeat all those 400/500 split level courses I took at the 400 level. This opens things up timewise for other areas of study.

    Within nuclear engineering, I enjoyed the nuclear physics type classes, and hated the thermal hydraulics and detector stuff. In my other classes, I enjoyed chemistry, materials science, C programming, EE/circuits and biology. Hated statics, dynamics, thermodynamics.

    So anyways, Im thinking about focusing on criticality saftey. Im just wondering, based on my given interests, what would generally be very useful to learn more about? Im interested in hearing from some of you out in the workforce.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2007 #2


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    Criticality issues are a subset of neutron physics problems associated with fissile materials, so one might think of reactor physics as well. National labs like ORNL, Savannah River and others that deal with special nuclear material would do criticality studies. Brookhaven has a group that specializes in nuclear safety issues.

    Outside of the labs, criticality comes up in storage and transportation of fresh and spent fuel, as well as the reactor itself. Criticality issues with power reactors were addressed long ago, and if they arise, the suppliers (NSSS vendors or fuel suppliers) of the technology would deal with it. If the commercial fuel suppliers go to higher enrichments (> 5% U-235), then they will have to revisit the criticality issues within the manufacturing shops. Transportation and storage criticality issues will also be affected by any increase in enrichment.

    One needs proficiency in MNCP these days. :wink:

    Thermal-hydraulics (and thermodynamics) would be important considerations for power systems, as well as part of a detailed accident analysis. The thermomechanics of a critical system is important, so try not to avoid studies in those areas.

    A good knowledge of materials is important, even if one does not like mechanics. However, the mechanical behavior of systems are another part of any system, including thermal-hydraulics and neutron physics.

    Programming is an important part of engineering, and some background in EE is useful.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2007
  4. Mar 18, 2007 #3
    Thanks for the reply. I was expecting that crit saftey would take me somewhere like ORNL/Y-12, LANL, LLNL etc. The power plants and fuel vendors seem OK I guess, the large scale of everything is interesting. I like the whole hands on aspect of things though so I always figured the National Labs would be my best bet. I love computers and all but I want to actually see the objects and processes a bunch too.

    You think commercial fuel will ever go above .05? The folks at Areva were saying the NRC isnt interested in any of that business.
  5. Mar 18, 2007 #4


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    would certainly do crit studies. LANL and LLNL have slightly different purposes that the other labs.

    At the moment, it is unlikely that enrichments would go above 5%, and the NRC would only be interested if the commercial power industry was interested. So far, it hasn't been necessary, and besides, the industry has enough problems where it is. :biggrin:

    Several plants are hitting reloads with 4.95% enrichments with reloads pushing nearly 46% of the core. Some plants using slightly lower average enrichment are reloading nearly 50% of the core in high-energy 18-month cycles.
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