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Senior Design Projects

We are very proud of the significant work performed by our undergraduates as a result of the Senior Design course. Here is a small sample of past projects.

» Radiological Assay of Burrowing Animals-Senior Design Project

ABA Team presenting their project at the 2024 Senior Design Showcase hosted by the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee

Students: James Pierce, Evan Godbehere, Kip Wheeler, and Jolyne Worthy

Faculty Mentor: Jason Davis and Lawrence Heilbronn

Sponsor: ORNL

Description: This project will enable ORNL to measure the activity per mass of small animals. We are designing a device to simultaneously restrain the animals while measuring their gross radiation counts and mass; this information will allow ORNL to identify animals that are safe for relocation to uncontaminated areas of the Oak Ridge Reservation. This design will also be modeled in MCNP to calculate its detection efficiency to ensure high fidelity.

» Design of a Small-Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High-
Temperature Reactor

Team FHR showing their Senior Design project to attendees at the 2024 Senior Design Showcase

Students: Mitchell (Mitch) Crockett, Cade Abbott, Edan (Kai) Edes-Lumpkin, and Landry Wells

Faculty Mentor: Sandra Bogetic and Nader Satvat

Sponsor: Kairos Power

Description: This project aims to design a small/micro fluoride salt cooled high temperature reactor similar to the test reactor, Hermes, that is being built by Kairos Power as a proof of concept of their full scale, KP-FHR. Hermes has its own entire manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so repurposing that facility will reduce overhead costs of production. The team uses a neutronic code, SERPENT, to create a model of a Hermes sized FHR and conduct a sensitivity analysis to determine if a micro-reactor power density level is feasible. This could then be pitched to Kairos as a potential new product for various applications.

» Tritium Extraction from Water Irradiated in a Nuclear Power Plant

TEW team presenting their project to people at the 2024 Senior Design Showcase in the Zeanah Engineering Complex building

Students: Kate Haugh, Ryan Shanks, Matthew McMillan, and Christopher Shaff

Faculty Mentor: Brooks Mattison and Martin Grossbeck

Sponsor: TVA and EPRI

Description: This project aims to safely separate tritium from waste coolant water at the Watts Bar power plant. We are developing and testing experimental designs to remove tritium for the safe release of coolant water into the environment. Additionally, separated tritium can be concentrated for later sale, causing the process to be environmentally and economically friendly for TVA.

» Axial Flux Mapping of a Subcritical Facility

Students: Garrett Robert, Henson Montgomery, John Charles Terosky IV

Faculty Mentor: Laurence Miller, Larry Sharpe

Sponsor: Electronic Power Research Institute

Description: This team’s task was to design and construct a robotic arm that accurately places a neutron detector into any location in the fueled region of the facility. The robotic arm will move with three degrees of freedom in the x, y, and z directions and will relocate under computer control. Three-dimensional mapping of the neutron flux in this facility, a 2016-17 project currently located in the Nuclear Engineering Building, will enhance educational and research opportunities.

» Rapid Autonomous Pneumatic Transport System

Students: Emily Hutchins, John Taylor, Xena McDonald, Jacob Melton, Elijah Davis, and Robert Bohn

Faculty Mentor: Wes Hines, Larry Sharpe

Sponsor: Electronic Power Research Institute

Description: This team’s task was to design an air-driven sample transport system that can deliver material samples into the fast neutron source core, transfer them to a detector for analysis, and then dispose of them, autonomously.

Find out which 2018-19 projects were recognized with a department award.


Students: Gavin Ridley, Dan Floyd, Walter Tebbs, and Patrick Tidwell

Faculty Mentor: T. Jay Harrison

Description: Students designed Plutonium Ultra-Light Space Reactor (PULSR) to produce power for extraterrestrial surface missions for up to 20 years. The project won second place in the American Nuclear Society Student Design Competition in 2018.

Read more about the PULSR project.

» Subcritical Facility

Description: The facility, a three-piece tank, is subcritical and useful for approach to critical and flux mapping experiments. It is currently assembled and resides in the Nuclear Engineering Building and is loaded with natural uranium. Other senior design projects are currently under way to use this facility.

» Pipe Crawler

Faculty Mentor: Graham Walford

Description: The purpose of the project was to move independently through relatively large pipes in contaminated piles and map the radioactivity, primarily uranium, in the pipe. This would eliminate, or significantly diminish, the need for external radiation measurements that may be too high to directly measure. Uranium-235 emits low energy photos that are highly attenuated by the pipe, which make external measurements time consuming and inaccurate.