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Wheeler Wins Best Presentation Award

Alex Wheeler stands in front of poster.

Nuclear engineering doctoral student Alex Wheeler won second place in the student poster competition at the 2019 Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) Workshop held at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on October 2-3.

His poster, “Leveraging Reactor Dynamics for Safeguarding MSRs,” delves into the topic of safeguards for MSRs. Safeguards are systems put into place to prevent the diversion of special nuclear material. There is no set method for safeguarding MSRs, but Wheeler’s poster looks into the possibility of using readily observable reactor power data for safeguards.

It was great to meet many of the important researchers in my field. Even more so, that they thought my research is part of a key area in MSR research and development. I look forward to representing UT at next year’s workshop.”

—Alex Wheeler

Molten salt reactors hold the potential for generating low-cost power, increased safety, and online reprocessing. They have been studied since the 1950s and are still in development at ORNL.

MSRs are different from the current reactor fleet in that they use a molten fluoride salt/fuel mixture as both the fuel and primary coolant. These reactors show promise for continued research because of their excellent heat transfer properties, high operating temperature, and low pressure.

Additionally, they are inert when exposed to air and water. The deployment of these reactors is hopefully around the corner, however, there is still plenty of research to be done to characterize them fully.