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Dr. Barbara Szpunar

University of Saskatchewan Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, Canada


Talk Title
Application of State-of-the-Art Calculations in Design of Accident Tolerant Fuel for Safe Nuclear Energy

Talk Abstract

Numerous nuclear accidents clearly illustrate the risks associated with the present design of reactors based on pure uranium dioxide fuel with low thermal conductivity that deteriorates with temperature increase and upon further oxidation. Additionally zircaloy cladding reacts rapidly with water at higher temperatures (> 800°C) and highly explosive hydrogen can be released. The international collaborative program led by the Expert Group on Accident Tolerant Fuels was formed in 2014 to evaluate alternative, accident tolerant nuclear materials. These materials should have higher thermal conductivities to prevent fuel meltdown, slower hydrogen generation at elevated temperatures and improved retention of fission products.  In addition, new generation nuclear reactors with enhanced thermal efficiency 40% or higher (current ~30%) will operate at higher temperatures, critical corrosion environment and should be more resistant to high neutron irradiation dose. For successful development of safer nuclear reactors and also future fusion fission hybrid fast neutron reactors, novel materials should be developed, understood and tested. We will show how state-of the-art first principles calculations are used as guidelines in the development of novel nuclear materials with the required characteristics. We will compare performance of proposed metallic and composite nuclear fuels and demonstrate that high thermal conductivity  nuclear fuel not only will be safer, but will also increase its longevity due to reduced thermal strain.

Short Biography

Dr Barbara Szpunar’s research interest are: First principles, predictive simulations of properties of accident tolerant and recycled nuclear fuels; Multidisciplinary studies of reactor safety and  accidents in nuclear reactors and artificial transmutation ((Medical isotopes production). She has ~200 publications and over 60 AECL technical documents. She has been visiting many international universities and laboratories, and after working for over seven years at Atomic Energy Canada Limited, where she pursued her interest in the simulations of nuclear accidents she moved to the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. She introduced there ivery nnovative course, based on simulations and became interested in experiential learning. Her professional affiliations are: Professional Engineer of Ontario; Member at Large at the CNS Western Branch; WIN, and also joined WIM/WIN leadership team in Saskatoon, and is Co-editor of Physics International.

Talk Keywords
Safer nuclear energy, accident tolerant nuclear fuel, first principles predictive simulations.
Target Audience
Researchers, Government policy makers, Industrail leaders, Students, General publics
Speaker-intro video

The International Conference on Innovative Applied Energy (IAPE’18)