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Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles

Kathryn Huff, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Dr. Huff is interested in modeling and simulation in the context of nuclear reactors and fuel cycles toward improved safety and sustainability of nuclear power. In the context of high performance computing, this work requires the coupling of multiple physics at multiple scales to model and simulate the design, safety, and performance of advanced nuclear reactors. In particular, thermal-hydraulic phenomena, neutron transport, and fuel performance couple tightly in nuclear reactor. Detailed spatially and temporally resolved neutron flux and temperature distributions in particular can improve designs, help characterize performance, inform reactor safety margins, and enable validation of numerical modeling techniques for those unique physics.

The current state of the art in advanced nuclear reactor simulation (e.g., the CASL DOE innovation hub) is focused on more traditional light water reactors. Dr. Huff is interested in extending that state of the art by enabling similarly high fidelity modeling and simulation of more advanced reactor designs. These designs require development of models and tools for representing unique materials, geometries, and physical phenomena. Current work includes extension of the MOOSE framework to appropriately model coupled thermal-hydraulics and neutronics of molten salt flow in a high temperature pebble-bed type reactor. Future work may include similarly challenging materials and geometries such as those in sodium cooled, gas cooled, and very high temperature reactor designs which promise advanced safety or sustainability.