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Dunkle Picks Up Student Paper Award from International Conference

Nicholas Dunkle.

Nicholas Dunkle

The case for molten salt reactors (MSRs) is continuing to gain prominence through research conducted in UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. Doctoral student Nicholas Dunkle recently received the JD Williams Student Paper Award in the Cross Cutting Topics area at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management and European Safeguards Research and Development Association, which was held virtually, Aug. 23–Sept. 1.

“Nicholas’s paper and talk presented several novel ideas that may make MSR safeguards feasible and economical, bringing them one step closer to reality,” said Research Assistant Professor Ondrej Chvala.

Dunkle’s winning paper entitled “Safeguards By Design Considerations For Modular Molten Salt Reactors,” written with Chvala, is about specific novel safeguards measures that are relevant to modular molten salt-fueled reactor design. This paper presents suggested design considerations that designers might consider to reduce the burden of independently verifying quantities of nuclear material.

“Safeguards for MSRs are too often regarded as prohibitively difficult,” said Dunkle. “During my research, I realized that MSR safeguards can be effectively achieved through the novel utilization of tools and techniques, many of which are already in use.”

International nuclear material safeguards are technical measures that allow independent verification of material declarations made by member states of International Atomic Energy Agency. These are mandated for non-nuclear weapon states. Implementing safeguards for liquid fueled systems is an important challenge to resolve to facilitate future deployment and export of such technology.