Faculty Member: Daniel LaBrier
Advanced nuclear reactors can incorporate molten metals or salts as coolant to transfer the heat produced in the nuclear reactor core to secondary coolant cycles for the production of electricity. These reactors often utilize electromagnetic flowmeters to measure the rate of coolant flow in the reactor core and secondary coolant cycles. As advanced nuclear reactors receive a greater emphasis towards physical builds, methods to efficiently measure coolant flow are essential for monitoring the reactor core and other coolant loops. Permanent magnets are often used in these situations, but there are numerous situations where permanent magnetic materials are not robust or resilient enough to withstand extreme operating conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and evaluate novel materials that can be used as permanent magnet materials that are capable of performing adequately in extreme environments (temperature, chemical corrosion, irradiation) over extended periods of time. One area that remains unexplored is the use of advanced manufacturing to fabricate customized components for constructing novel flowmeters based on magnetic field principles.
Student Research Experience: Working in collaboration with staff members at the Idaho National Laboratory, students will participate in three key areas of this research: (1) down-selection of appropriate materials through advanced modeling techniques, including molecular dynamics (MD); (2) identification of proper base materials for magnetic component fabrication based on the results of the MD simulations; and (3) design of the aforementioned components. They will also investigate the effects of irradiation, high temperature, and high pressure on printed components in order to provide fundamental knowledge about component and system operations while experiencing extreme conditions.