RESEARCH TOPICS IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
- Participation in DOE’s Virtual Reactor Development Project, CASL
- Gas Flow and Heat Transfer in Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR)
- Development of an Efficient Meso-scale Multi-phase Flow Solver in Nuclear Applications
- Long Term Cooling of Degraded Reactor Core
- Materials Research for Applications to Nuclear Reactors
NUCLEAR ENGINEERING PROGRAM
The CUNY Energy Institute is proudly training the next generation’s nuclear workforce at the City College of New York (CCNY). Nuclear power currently contributes 70% of the nation’s carbon-free energy and safely provides reliable baseload electricity for the US grid. Enabling the future of nuclear energy is an important goal of the CUNY Energy Institute, and ours is the only nuclear engineering program offered in the tri-state area. Our goal is to create a certificate program that provides graduates with practical, essential skills. America’s Nuclear Renaissance promises good-paying domestic jobs to the trained workers who will operate our nuclear power plants in the future. CCNY began its nuclear engineering program for undergraduate education and graduate research in January 2009 with support from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The director of the Energy Institute, Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee, is a distinguished researcher in the nuclear field and is a member of the US Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), which is congressionally mandated to maintain oversight over nuclear power. Professor Masahiro Kawaji leads the nuclear program’s teaching and light water reactor research supported by multiple grants from NRC and the Department of Energy (DOE).
We are participating in the first-ever energy hub, the DOE’s 5-year, $122 million Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) Program. The goal of CASL is to build a “virtual reactor” that will improve the performance and predictive simulation of light water reactors. Professors Kawaji, Banerjee, and Taehun Lee are conducting research focused on the detailed simulation of sub-cooled flow boiling in PWR fuel assemblies through advanced numerical simulation models as well as experimental verification. Ultimately, we seek to safely extend the lifetime of existing US reactors and reduce the nuclear waste volume generated by enabling higher fuel burn-ups. We are collaborating with Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Idaho National Laboratories as part of this effort.
The CCNY Nuclear Engineering concentration consists of 4 elective courses that are offered to undergraduate students majoring in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering and to Master of Engineering students: ENGR 59904 Reactor Physics and Engineering, ENGR 59905 Reactor Thermal Hydraulics, ENGR 59906 Nuclear Power Plant Safety, and ENGR 59907 Nuclear Power Plant Design and Operation.
In 2010, 38 students enrolled in Reactor Physics and Engineering and 30 students enrolled in Reactor Thermal Hydraulics. Fifteen undergraduates are receiving scholarships offered by NRC. There are currently 12 graduate students performing cutting edge light water reactor-related research: 7 PhD students and 5 Masters of Engineering. Some of these students are supported by Mitsubishi Nuclear Graduate Fellowships, which have been provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems. Additional graduate fellowships are also available through the New York – Nuclear Research Opportunities Program (NY-NROP) sponsored by NRC.
In the Energy Institute’s Thermal-Hydraulics Laboratory, we are studying gas-liquid two-phase flow and phase-change heat transfer problems of importance to nuclear reactors and non-nuclear energy systems. Advanced instruments such as PIV, high-speed video imaging, laser focus displacement sensors, optical fiber void probe, and infrared imaging camera are used to obtain detailed flow field and thermal data associated with multiphase flow and phase change heat transfer phenomena. In addition, Professor Kawaji is building a thermal storage program at CCNY. An experimental apparatus has been set up for thermal energy storage using phase-change material (PCM) nano-emulsions. We will ramp up this exciting area of research as part of a multi-million dollar lab renovation, funded by New York State.
EDUCATION AND RESEARCH GRANTS
In 2009-2010, the CUNY Energy Institute received significant support from the US government and industry for our growing nuclear engineering program. Together, these grants total more than $2 million over a five-year period. Five grants from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have provided foundational support for undergraduate curriculum development, faculty development, undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, and exciting research through the Minority Serving Institutions Program. As CASL participants, we have received support from DOE for advanced research. The Energy Department has also contributed important infrastructure for our lab through the Nuclear Energy Undergraduate Programs (NEUP). In addition, we are working closely with industry to raise the profile of nuclear engineering. Mitsubishi Nuclear Graduate Fellowships enable our graduate students to study ways of improving reactor performance and reducing waste.