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Proposal For a Nuclear Reactor Operations Course at Purdue University


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This presentation discusses the reasons why there should be a class that applies theoretical nuclear engineering to reactor operations, potentially for the 2015/2016 college semester. For more informaiton on GSE Systems, go to and follow GSE on Twitter @GSESystems. Thanks for viewing!

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Proposal For a Nuclear Reactor Operations Course at Purdue University

  1. 1. Proposal for a Nuclear Reactor Operations Course at Purdue University  
  2. 2. 2 Nuclear Engineering Undergraduate Coursework •  Design in Nuclear Engineering (2 Classes) •  Introduction to Nuclear Structure/Radiation Interactions (2 Classes) •  Materials (1-2 Classes + 1 Lab) •  Mechanics of Materials (1 Class) •  Neutronics (1-2 Classes) •  Nuclear Instrumentation (2 Labs) •  Nuclear Power Systems (1 Class) •  Thermodynamics (1 Class) •  Thermal-Hydraulics (2 Classes + 1 Lab)
  3. 3. 3 Where Do Purdue NEs Go? Good fundamental theoretical knowledge, but lack of practical hands on experience with nuclear reactor operations.
  4. 4. 4 Outline of Proposed Class •  Fundamental applied reactor physics •  PWR systems •  Operations — Startup/shutdown •  Transients •  Casualties •  Testing/maintenance Proposed Takeaways from the Class •  Integration of reactor plant systems •  Application of theory to operation •  Systems-level background
  5. 5. 5 Structure of Class •  Two 75-minute periods each week •  PWR computer simulator used during these periods in a computer lab –  Theory to practice –  “Hands-on” operation of a full plant •  Hands-on lab periods using Purdue’s 1 kW training reactor (PUR-1)
  6. 6. 6 PUR-1 Research and Teaching Reactor PUR-1 Reactor (built in 1962) •  Licensed for 1 kW •  MTR-type flat plate fuel •  Can be operated by students under licensed operator direction •  Pool-type design
  7. 7. 7 Hands-On Reactor Experience Current Student Experience •  Lecture on reactor instrument channels •  Approach to critical via control rod removal •  Determination of control rod reactivity worth via positive period •  Demonstration of prompt drop and delayed neutrons with large negative reactivity insertion
  8. 8. 8 Additional Reactor Operations More Console Experience •  Rod swaps •  Power level changes •  Measurement of the reactivity worth of experiments •  Sample irradiation
  9. 9. 9 GPWR Simulator •  First-of-a-kind engineering simulator experience •  Multiple universities (Ohio State, Penn State, Texas A&M and University of Central Florida) are using the GPWR simulator for research and teaching.
  10. 10. 10 Example: A Full PWR Simulation This is a little bit too much for starting off the students.
  11. 11. 11 Example Screen: BWR Starting point for the students
  12. 12. 12 Output
  13. 13. 13 Sample Simulation Exercises Startup: Point of adding heat Shutdown: Demonstration of period/startup rate Reactor coolant leak: Indication & actions Reactor scram: Actions & physics Up power and down power: Xenon and Samarium transients and reactivity changes
  14. 14. 14 Instructional Methods •  Lectures and quizzes covering power plant systems (Training materials included with simulator purchase) •  Some computer labs will be individual lessons for a single student. •  Some computer labs will be team oriented with each student taking a different role. •  Some computer labs will involve multiple students on a single console. •  Integrate hands-on PUR-1 runs with GPWR simulations.
  15. 15. 15 Steps Forward •  Pursue funding for the simulator (DOE NEUP, NRC, Purdue instructional equipment funding, industrial). •  Develop full curriculum. •  Goal: Potential start date in spring or fall 2016 as a 500- level elective (may be taken by students with senior standing and graduate students) •  Course open to interested engineering students – the goal is to make it as self-contained as possible
  16. 16. 16 Takeaways •  Propose a class to apply theoretical nuclear engineering to reactor operations. •  Combine coursework with computer simulation and practical operation of PUR-1. •  Potential first offering of the course in spring 2015 or fall 2016.
  17. 17. For more information: Go to: Call: +1 800.638.7912 Email: Follow us on: Twitter @GSESystems