Research

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Inside of a reactor.

The future of nuclear energy starts here

With an annual research budget of over $8 million, 25,000 square feet of dedicated lab space, and our 1.1 megawatt TRIGA reactor, signature areas of research excellence include reactor design, radiation detection, nuclear materials development, nuclear fuels, and radiation health physics. Research by the school’s faculty played a vital role in regulatory approval for an advanced light-water reactor. More recently, research originating here led to the first small modular reactor design ever approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Facilities

Signature research areas

Current research falls under six broad research areas: radiation transport and reactor physics; radiation detection and measurement; nuclear security, nonproliferation, and nuclear safeguards; nuclear thermal hydraulics and reactor safety; radiochemistry and radioecology; and materials for nuclear engineering applications.

Nuclear Engineering Research

Research in this area involves advanced methods for neutral and charged particle transport, and the application of simulation tools for the analysis of systems containing radiation or radioactive materials. Ongoing work includes calculating antineutrino sources for non-proliferation detector development, advanced deterministic transport algorithms for radiation detector simulation, deterministic radiation dose calculations for cancer treatment, 3-D simulations of radiation through stochastic mixtures, hybrid Monte Carlo/deterministic transport for reactor physics and thermal radiative transfer, and the design of reactor cores for small, innovative commercial power reactors.

For more information contact Todd Palmer.

Oregon State University is a leading organization in nuclear reactor hydro-mechanics research. This area examines large scale and small scale fluid structure interaction phenomena including flow induced vibration of fuel elements and in-core mechanics to examine both temporal and frequency relations in a hydraulic environment, hydraulic buckling of nuclear reactor components, as well as structure corrosion. 

For more information contact Wade Marcum

This area examines the overall design features of existing and advanced nuclear power generation systems, including the examination of light water reactor nuclear fuel, core cooling systems, main steam systems, power generation equipment, process instrumentation, containment, and active and passive engineered safety features. General studies of the neutronics of nuclear reactors include the theory of steady state and transient behavior of nuclear reactors, including reactivity effects of control rods and fuel, determination of nuclear reaction cross sections, and steady state and transient reactor behavior. Thermal hydraulic studies related to nuclear reactor design include hydrodynamics, conductive, convective and radiative heat transfer in nuclear reactor systems, core heat removal design, and single and two-phase flow behavior. Nuclear criticality safety studies include design and neutronic analysis of storage and transportation facilities for spent fuel and weapons materials.

For more information contact Brian Woods.

 A wide variety of nuclear reactor thermal hydraulic problems have been investigated at Oregon State University. These include the development of a library of best estimate thermal hydraulic computer codes for nuclear reactor safety analysis, experimental studies of the mixing of reactor fluids in reactor relevant geometries, experimental studies to characterize a variety of two-phase flow patterns, the analysis of countercurrent flooding behavior in reactor geometries, the analysis of condensation induced water hammers, and a study of the effects of fluid particle interactions on interfacial transfer and flow structure. OSU’s ongoing research is instrumental in the design and licensing of new reactors. 

For more information contact Qiao Wu.

Research reactor management in a highly regulated environment with a limited budget presents many challenges, yet the Oregon State TRIGA reactor has been widely recognized as a national leader in professionalism and quality. The School of Nuclear Science and Engineering is one of only a few programs in the country with onsite access to an operating research reactor. Students are encouraged to be involved in reactor operations. Oregon State is also currently working on the experimental quantification of the thermal-hydraulic behavior of low enriched uranium based fuels for use in high performance research reactors.

For more information contact Steve Reese.

The School of Nuclear Science and Engineering has partnered with the National Nuclear Security Administration and regional national laboratories to establish an academic emphasis in nuclear security and nonproliferation.  This interdisciplinary effort prepares students for positions impacting national security by reducing the threat of illicit nuclear smuggling and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons by supporting the technical needs of the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safeguards.  Students often have the opportunity to intern with Department of Energy national laboratories working on technical challenges that address both domestic and international threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Being interdisciplinary in nature, various technical areas align with the nuclear security and nonproliferation mission including: nuclear and radiological detection, nuclear fuel cycle analysis, inspection tools and measurements for nuclear safeguards, computational modeling and simulation, vulnerability and threat assessment, radiation effects and protection, and understanding of the international framework to assess policy options.   

For more information, contact Camille Palmer.

Health Physics Research

Recent changes in regulations regarding cleanup of radioactive and hazardous waste sites have focused attention on the impact to non-human biota. Staff are investigating methods to adapt existing environmental contaminant transport models to evaluate impacts of cleanup on ecosystems.

For more information contact Kathryn Higley.

A number of aspects of environmental dose assessment are examined. This includes evaluating radiation dose to both humans and non-humans, employing a variety of methods to determine potential contributors to dose. This includes examining the transfer factors and concentration ratios as well as calculating organ specific doses using both deterministic and stochastic methods.

For more information contact Kathryn Higley.

The School of Nuclear Science and Engineering has partnered with the National Nuclear Security Administration and regional national laboratories to establish an academic emphasis in nuclear security and nonproliferation.  This interdisciplinary effort prepares students for positions impacting national security by reducing the threat of illicit nuclear smuggling and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons by supporting the technical needs of the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safeguards.  Students often have the opportunity to intern with Department of Energy national laboratories working on technical challenges that address both domestic and international threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Being interdisciplinary in nature, various technical areas align with the nuclear security and nonproliferation mission including: nuclear and radiological detection, nuclear fuel cycle analysis, inspection tools and measurements for nuclear safeguards, computational modeling and simulation, vulnerability and threat assessment, radiation effects and protection, and understanding of the international framework to assess policy options.   

For more information, contact Camille Palmer.

Radiochemistry Research

A multifaceted chemistry, including radiobiological chemistry, environmental radiochemistry, production and control of radioisotopes and labeled compounds, nuclear power plant chemistry, nuclear fuel chemistry, radioanalytical chemistry, radiation detection and measurement, nuclear instrumentation and automation, and more.

For more information contact Alena Paulenova

Advanced separations technology is key to closing the nuclear fuel cycle and relieving future generations from the burden of radioactive waste produced by the nuclear power industry. Nuclear fuel reprocessing techniques not only allow for recycling of useful fuel components for further power generation, but by also separating out the actinides, lanthanides and other fission products produced by the nuclear reaction, the residual radioactive waste can be minimized. The future of the industry relies on the advancement of separation and transmutation technology to ensure environmental protection, criticality-safety and non-proliferation (i.e., security) of radioactive materials by reducing their long-term radiological hazard. Advanced separation techniques for nuclear fuel reprocessing and radioactive waste treatment provide a reference on nuclear fuel reprocessing and radioactive waste treatment. 

For more information contact Alena Paulenova.

Explores radionuclide chemistry in the natural environment, including aquatic chemistry and the impact of natural organic matter and microorganisms, migration and radioecological behavior of radionuclides, sorption and colloidal reactions. Understanding radionuclide behavior in the natural environment is essential to the sustainable development of the nuclear industry and key to assessing potential environmental risks reliably. Principles of modeling coupled geochemical, transport and radioecological properties, performance assessment considerations related to deep geological repositories, and remediation concepts for contaminated sites.

For more information contact Alena Paulenova.

The School of Nuclear Science and Engineering has partnered with the National Nuclear Security Administration and regional national laboratories to establish an academic emphasis in nuclear security and nonproliferation.  This interdisciplinary effort prepares students for positions impacting national security by reducing the threat of illicit nuclear smuggling and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons by supporting the technical needs of the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safeguards.  Students often have the opportunity to intern with Department of Energy national laboratories working on technical challenges that address both domestic and international threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Being interdisciplinary in nature, various technical areas align with the nuclear security and nonproliferation mission including: nuclear and radiological detection, nuclear fuel cycle analysis, inspection tools and measurements for nuclear safeguards, computational modeling and simulation, vulnerability and threat assessment, radiation effects and protection, and understanding of the international framework to assess policy options.   

For more information, contact Camille Palmer.

   

135

Masters Student

    

29

Doctoral Students

   

$6.3M

Research Funding

     

No. 11

U.S. News & World Report "Best Nuclear Engineering Programs"