NucE alumnus, Exelon receives $5M DOE award to study BWR core behavior

12/12/2018

Exelon recently won funding for a two-year project to study core behavior in boiling water reactors (BWRs) to improve performance and reduce nuclear fuel costs.

"We need improved accuracy in predicting core reactivity and thermal limits throughout our 2-year BWR fuel cycles and this project is intended to achieve that goal.  It will also result in reduced fuel costs and an improved capability of meeting generation commitments," said Jim Tusar, senior manager of Nuclear Fuels and Penn State nuclear engineer alumnus, who put in for the grant along with Moussa Mahgerefteh, also from Nuclear Fuels.

Exelon received $5 million in grant funding toward the $6.74 million project titled "Modeling and Analysis of Exelon Boiling Water Reactors for Eigenvalue & Thermal Limits Predictability." Exelon Generation will partner for the two-year project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois and Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF). The team will develop a deeper understanding of BWR core behavior (including Exelon's BWRs) using the advanced reactor modeling tool VERA (Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications). This will lead to improved core performance predictions for BWRs including reactivity and thermal margins, which has a direct, positive economic impact in terms of cycle energy production and fuel cost reduction.  This project supports Exelon's 25x25 initiative under the Building Enduring Value pillar.

Studying the reactor cores with VERA should yield substantial improvement over existing industry predictions because the tool allows for modeling of void and depletion parameters on a rod-by-rod basis instead of a bundle-average basis. It also can provide detailed modeling of different bypass flow regions.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding selections for eleven domestic advanced nuclear technology projects, including this one, on Nov. 13. The projects are located across six states and will receive varying amounts for a total of approximately $18 million in funding, with project values totaling approximately $25 million. The projects are cost-shared and will allow industry-led teams, including participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability.

"Nuclear energy plays an increasingly important role in reaching our country's clean energy and economic goals," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. "These awards are prime examples of the private-public partnerships needed to help successfully develop and deploy innovative domestic nuclear technologies."  The awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy's (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA), U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development.

Originally published by Exelon.
 

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The Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the top ranked nuclear engineering programs in the United States. The department distinguishes itself from other programs with a strong focus on experimental research in power, science, security and safety. The actively growing department leads four educational programs for students pursuing a bachelor of science, a master of science, a master of engineering or a doctoral degree. The department also houses the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, the country’s first and longest operating licensed nuclear reactor. The construction and operation of the reactor introduced nuclear engineering to Penn State, and, in doing so, harnessed research and educational opportunities as key strengths for the department. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at nuce.psu.edu.

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