Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, May 24, 2010

U-M researchers developing tomorrow’s
nuclear technologies

Next-generation nuclear technologies are being developed by four U-M engineering professors who have received a total of $4.3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program.

For more information

Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences
Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute’s nuclear research
Nuclear Energy University Program

“We are taking action to restart the nuclear industry as part of a broad approach to cut carbon pollution and create new clean energy jobs,” says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “These projects will help us develop the nuclear technologies of the future and move our domestic nuclear industry forward.”

These U-M projects are among $38 million in research grants that DoE has awarded to 42 universities across the nation to advance nuclear education and create tomorrow’s nuclear program:

• Bill Martin, professor and chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, received $406,712 for his fuel-cycle research project on multiphysics simulation of nuclear reactors.

• Anton Van der Ven, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, received $996,581 for developing fuels for highly efficient, high temperature reactors that use helium as a coolant instead of water.

• Lumin Wang, professor in the departments of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences and Materials Science and Engineering, received $931,603 for work on shorter-term nuclear-waste storage while researchers identify a long-term site more suitable than Yucca Mountain.

• Gary Was, the Walter J. Weber Jr. Professor of Sustainable Energy, Environmental and Earth Systems, received close to $2 million total for work on advanced nuclear reactors that would produce more energy and create less waste. In one project, he will develop new materials for “sodium fast reactors" that can run off recycled fuel and actually generate new fuel in the process. In another, he will study how the radiation in the current generation of nuclear plants accelerates corrosion. Was also is a professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences as well the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

“We are strongly positioned to forge the next generation of nuclear reactors to produce safe, reliable and affordable renewable energy,” says Dennis Assanis, director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute at U-M and the Jon R. and Beverly S. Holt Professor of Engineering in mechanical engineering.