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Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technologies

Nuclear reactor technologies are evolving and need to respond to new demands and challenges. While the Fukushima accident has made safety standards for new reactor technologies even more stringent, competing renewable energies are becoming cheaper and cheaper. New reactor technologies face the challenge of being safer and more economically competitive at the same time. In addition, public concerns about the environmental impact of nuclear power grow and reactor technologies need to be as much proliferation-resistant as possible despite a global nuclear arms race.  Meanwhile, new opportunities arise for nuclear reactor technologies to play a role. For instance, the return of space exploration and colonization has revived interest in nuclear power for space applications. My research examines new nuclear reactor technologies under many angles. As an expert in nuclear reactor numerical modelling, I am interested in developing new open-source tools that can model advanced nuclear reactors such as Generation IV designs. Another part of my work focuses on assessing the proliferation risks of certain new reactor designs. Finally, I am interested in examining the relationship between international collaboration and progress in new nuclear technologies.

Projects

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Designs where the fuel circulates through the reactor such as molten-salt reactor or pebble-bed reactor present several advantages in terms of safety and economics over traditional, solid-fuel reactor. While these technologies are gradually being tested in pilot projects, established reactor modelling software are still designed to simulate traditional reactors. This project aims at developing open-source numerical tools to model unique features of circulating fuel reactors.

Modelling Circulating Fuel Reactor with Open-source Software

Collaborators on this project: Alexander Glaser, Malte Göttsche

Publication: J. de Troullioud de Lanversin, A. Glaser, M. Göttsche (2017), “Toward an Open-source Neutronics Code for Circulating-fuel Reactors,” 25th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering ICONE25, July 2-6, 2017, Shanghai

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China is constructing two fast-breeder reactors (called CFR-600) which are supposed to be completed in 2023 and 2026. These civilian reactors are designed to produce more plutonium than conventional reactors which can then be used to re-fuel the reactor (thus closing the fuel cycle). This project uses reactor modelling with ONIX to understand the technical feasibility for China to divert its CFR-600 reactors to produce weapon-grade plutonium for its nuclear arsenal.

Plutonium Production in China's New Fast Breeder Reactors

Collaborators on this project: Zhang Hui

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As US-Russia tensions in space have increased over the last several years, cooperation in space nuclear research presents itself as one opportunity to both ease bilateral relations and develop the technologies needed for the next generation of crewed space missions. In this work, we suggest that the United States and the Russian Federation have complementary needs and strengths in nuclear space technologies, particularly as they pertain to deep space propulsion and utilization of space resources.

Reigniting US-Russia Collaboration in Nuclear Technology for Space

Collaborators on this project: Stephen Buono, Jake Hecla, Kattie Mummah, Vladimir Kobezskii

Publication: J. de Troullioud de Lanversin, A. Glaser, M. Göttsche (2017), “Toward an Open-source Neutronics Code for Circulating-fuel Reactors,” 25th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering ICONE25, July 2-6, 2017, Shanghai

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