U.S. Department of Energy funds project to investigate safety of shippable nuclear reactors
MANHATTAN — Hitesh Bindra, Steve Hsu keystone research scholar and associate professor in the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Kansas State University, has received a nearly $800,000 grant to investigate safety in horizontally oriented micro-scale nuclear reactors designed for shipping in standard-sized containers.
Bindra will lead the three-year project, "Investigating heat transfer in horizontally oriented HTGR under normal and PCC conditions," for the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering alongside four colleagues from other institutions, including Idaho State University, City College of New York and the Idaho National Laboratory. Of the total funding, $150,000 is allocated to the Idaho National Laboratory. Industrial advisors from Framatome and the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation will support the project team.
Microreactors are a new class of nuclear reactors that are factory-fabricated, rated to less than 20 megawatts and designed to be transportable for delivering heat and power to different destinations. Helium-cooled microreactors are currently undergoing design improvements to fit in a standard-sized shipping container, making them more accessible and convenient.
"This project will investigate the new design aspects for the horizontally oriented reactors and evaluate their potential to achieve passive safety features," Bindra said. "Unlike currently operating nuclear reactors, these helium-cooled microreactors are expected to be autonomously controlled and can ensure passive long-term heat removal under all off-normal conditions, making them inherently safe."