Thursday, August 1, 2013

UI doctoral candidate honored for research at INL

Joshua Daw
Joshua Daw, a University of Idaho student completing his doctoral thesis work at Idaho National Laboratory’s High Temperature Test Laboratory, recently earned first prize in the Fuel Cycle Research Innovations competition for his paper, “Hot Wire Needle Probe for In-Reactor Thermal Conductivity Measurement” (IEEE Sensors, Aug. 2012).

In November, he will travel to the American Nuclear Society meeting in Washington, D.C., to accept the award, which is given to support innovation and higher education in disciplines related to the nuclear fuel cycle.

Daw's winning work, completed with INL researchers Joy Rempe and Darrell Knudson, addresses the question of how to measure thermal conductivity during irradiation. Thermal conductivity — which measures how materials conduct heat — is considered one of the most important physical characteristics of fuels. In most materials, it is measured by evaluating samples after being irradiated.

The “cook and look” approach, as Rempe calls it, is an invasive and expensive process. Previous methods for taking these measurements during irradiation required several assumptions that limited accuracy. Working at the INL, Daw developed a method to make such measurements with a hot wire needle probe. Data collected this way may lead to better simulation design codes and improvements to the next generation of nuclear reactors.

Daw has a passion for golf and began studying engineering because he wanted to be a golf club designer. It was a DOE-funded UI/INL research opportunity that led him to high-temperature instrumentation instead.

He expects to complete his Ph.D. next May. His post-doctorate plans include golf and more learning. "There are a few more degrees I am interested in, so who knows?” he said.