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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter

 

Spring / Summer 2006
Featured articles

Fonck named chief scientist for international fusion experiment

Physicists persevere in quest for inexhaustible energy source

Radiation studies key to nuclear reactor life, recycling spent fuel

Systems analysis may guide fuel-cycle decisions

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Assistant Professor Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson
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Systems analysis may guide fuel-cycle decisions

Decorative initial cap Assistant Professor Paul Wilson is working with researchers in the Department of Energy Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) to develop systems analysis tools to answer questions of interest.

By minimizing waste, maximizing resources and addressing the risk of proliferation, GNEP aims to improve the use of nuclear energy around the world. In particular, says Wilson, researchers hope the effort will restart a U.S. spent nuclear fuel recycling program with an engineering-scale facility for aqueous separations of spent nuclear fuel, fuels testing in a fast flux reactor, and fast-reactor fuel reprocessing and fabrication.

Systems analysis is guiding the decision-making process by allowing researchers to estimate the total system impact of different fuel-cycle decisions over a 100-year period. The holistic approach includes a wide variety of metrics such as the cost of electricity, the amount of spent-fuel repository space that will be necessary, and the amount of separated plutonium that exists at any time in the system.

With funding from the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, Wilson is investigating economically efficient fuel cycles under the constraint of a single spent-fuel repository, including new models for financing and pricing the repository space, and what is an economically favorable fuel cycle.

Optimization methods in systems analysis tools are emerging as an important alternative to complicated feedback mechanisms within the systems analysis models. Wilson also is reviewing and recommending optimization methods for a new systems analysis tool, with funding from the Idaho National Laboratory Laboratory-Directed Research and Development program.

To that end, for the GNEP effort, he is implementing different optimization and decision-making algorithms to find solutions that either optimize one variable, such as economics, or define tradeoffs between variables, under a variety of constraints, including repository space.

 


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Date last modified: Friday, 23-June-2006 11:49:00 CDT
Date created: 23-June-2006

 

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