Ranjan, Green, and Deo Recieve DOE-NEUP Awards

Three Woodruff School researchers were recently awarded more than $2 million in combined research and development grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to advance nuclear technology innovations and infrastructure. The grants are part of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) and provide funding for nuclear energy-related research through the NEUP, Nuclear Science User Facilities, and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programs. In total, 93 projects were selected to receive funding that will help push innovative nuclear technologies toward commercialization and into the market.


Devesh Ranjan, Associate Professor of Fluid Mechanics at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, was among the winning Research and Development Award recipients for Reactor Concepts Research Development and Demonstration. His project titled Thermal Hydraulic and Structural Testing and Modeling of Compact Diffusion-Bonded Heat Exchangers for Supercritical CO2 Brayton Cycles aims to validate and verify the structural integrity of continuous channel–type PCHEs such as the Heatric zig/zag or Marbond (otherwise known as Shimtec) continuous micro-channel heat exchanger opposed to fin-type geometries. The importance of improved efficiency and reduced capital cost has led to renewed efforts in studying advanced Brayton cycles for high temperature energy conversion. The use of compact diffusion bonded heat exchangers combined with the small turbomachinery has resulted in a compact footprint which can also be useful in applications such as marine propulsion. Although diffusion bonded heat exchangers are attractive, there are concerns regarding their thermal and mechanical behavior when subjected to severe transient scenarios which are relevant to nuclear power plants.


Itzhak Green, Professor of Tribology at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, also earned a Reactor Concepts Research Development and Demonstration award for his collaboration with Purdue University, North Carolina State University, and Honeywell Aerospace researchers on the project Tribological Damage Mechanisms from Experiments and Validated Simulations of Alloy 800H and Inconel 617 in a Simulated HTGR/VHTR Helium Environment. The team’s project seeks to develop a mechanistic understanding of accelerated fretting and wear, and bonding between Alloy 800H and Inconel 617 surfaces through a series of tribological experiments in a simulated helium environment with controlled concentrations of gaseous species followed by microstructure characterization using electron microscopy, spectroscopy, and atom probe tomography, and the development of validated macroscopic models informed by properties/mechanisms at the atomistic level.


Chaitanya S. Deo, Associate Professor, Nuclear and Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics, earned a Fuel Cycle Research and Development award for his collaboration with Purdue University and Idaho National Laboratory researchers on the project Microstructure, Thermal, and Mechanical Properties Relationships in U and UZr Alloys. The team’s research focuses on a science based approach to capturing the connections between U and UZr alloys’ ED microstructure, thermal properties, and mechanical properties through closely coordinated experiments and modeling efforts from unirradiated to the irradiated fuels with the goal of dramatically improving existing fuel performance codes by providing requisite links between 3D microstructure and properties.


The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding over $82 million in nuclear energy research, facility access, crosscutting technology development, and infrastructure awards in 28 states. Through NEUP, the DOE is awarding more than $35 million for 48 university-led nuclear research and development projects, $15 million for four Integrated Research Projects, and $5 million for 17 infrastructure support awards. The DOE is also awarding nearly $7 million to support seven nuclear energy research and development projects through the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program. NEET is also awarding three grants, totaling over $1 million, to support infrastructure improvements at Department of Energy national laboratories to further reactor and instrumentation research.


Additionally, the DOE has selected eight university, two national laboratory, and one industry-led project that will take advantage of NSUF capabilities to investigate important nuclear fuel and material applications. DOE will fund over $9 million in facility access costs and expertise for experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities, and technical assistance for design and analysis of experiments through the NSUF.