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NEUTRONICS & REACTOR PHYSICS
The defining characteristic of nuclear energy systems is the important role played by neutron and other radiation. Design and analysis of advanced nuclear systems requires modeling and simulation of radiation transport, and how it interacts with and changes the materials those systems. INES researchers are developing novel software tools and using them, as well as other industry tools, to design and analyze advanced reactors and fusion energy systems.
NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLES
The flow of nuclear material through a nuclear energy system, from mining to its ultimate disposal, has important implications on the socio-economic prospects for nuclear energy. Understanding these flows can inform the resource needs, waste production, and nuclear non-proliferation challenges. INES researchers have active projects to understand the technology options for future fuel cycles, their dynamic behavior as they are deployed, and the implications on important metrics.
Nuclear energy systems rely on a variety of fluids to remove heat and convert it to other user forms of energy. Understanding the properties of these fluids, how they perform, and their use for maintaining the safety of nuclear energy systems. INES researchers have active projects to explore the behavior of supercritical water, supercritical CO2, molten salts, liquid metals and air.
Like many engineering systems, the performance of nuclear energy systems is often limited by the robustness and compatibility of their materials. Unlike most engineering systems, there are few environments that are challenging for materials as nuclear fission and fusion energy systems. INES researchers have active projects, both experimental and computational, to understand how materials respond to the radiation, temperature and corrosive nature of nuclear energy systems.
Integrated safety analysis combines many of the above domains to confirm the safe operation of nuclear energy systems during normal and off-normal conditions. Transient analyses that couple the nuclear, thermal and material responses, and especially the feedbacks among them, are vital to establishing the envelope for safe operation. INES researchers have active projects to perform integrated safety analyses on fission and fusion energy systems.