Monday, May 14, 2012

UI receives $2.56 million in nuclear research grants

The United States Department of Energy has awarded $2.56 million in new research and development projects to the University of Idaho, the largest amount awarded to any single institution. In addition to the three grants, DOE's Nuclear Energy University Programs division also awarded UI a three-year graduate fellowship.  
The money comes from $47 million awarded by NEUP nationwide, for scholarships, fellowships, research grants and university research reactor upgrades. The purpose is to support nuclear research and development and train a new generation of nuclear expertise at 46 colleges and universities.
“The NEUP research grants awarded to the University of Idaho will support cutting edge research that will ensure the continued generation of safe and reliable nuclear energy," said Robert Smith, associate vice president and CEO for University of Idaho-Idaho Falls Center and associate director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. "(The) awards show a continuing return on Idaho’s investment in the University of Idaho and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies,” .
At the University of Idaho-Idaho Falls Center, the projects were awarded to three scientists:

Supathorn Phongikaroon, principal investigator on a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy project that aims to measure and analyze concentrations of dissolved used nuclear fuel in high temperature ionic liquid. This process could help reduce the risk of nuclear material proliferation and develop safeguarding technology. Total award: $820,000
Akira Tokuhiro, principal investigator, and Milos Manic and Vivek Utgikar, co-principal investigators on a hybrid energy conversion system that can be applied to next generation nuclear power plants linked to other renewable energy sources. Hybrid energy systems combine baseload power, such as nuclear, with renewable energy sources such as wind or solar, offering efficient and reliable energy sources for energy security. Total award: $877,000.
Vivek Utgikar, principal investigator on a project to develop of intelligent control systems for next generation nuclear reactor systems, which will use reactor heat directly in processes such as synthetic fuel production. Utgikar's project is to develop mathematical equations that describe the steady state and transient behavior of the system composed of the nuclear reactor and intermediate heat exchanger transferring the heat to the chemical process. Control strategy based on these equations will be devised to maintain the operation and enhance the safety of the system. Total amount: $869,997.

In addition, Richard Skifton was awarded a $50,000 annual graduate fellowship for the next three years. Skifton, who is currently completing a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering, will use the funds to support his doctoral studies at the University of Idaho.