The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will take part in two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects totaling more than $9 million which involve a team of institutions to improve upon nuclear energy safety and efficiency.
The projects draw upon lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.
The two awards are part of the DOE’s 2012 Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) Integrated Research Programs (IRP).
A proposal by Kurt Sickafus, head of the Department of Material Science and Engineering, was awarded $3.5 million to improve the nuclear fuel cladding in light water reactors. Cladding refers to the metallic tube that protects the fuel in a nuclear reactor from the surrounding coolant such as water.
“Currently, the alloys in the cladding when at high temperatures can oxidize, releasing hydrogen gas which can cause an explosion similar to the one we saw in Japan,” Sickafus said.
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