2017 Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Lecture
Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Lecture
MS&T Plenary Session
9:50 a.m., October 10, Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom
Steven J. Zinkle, Governor’s Chair professor, University of Tennessee/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
What’s new in nuclear reactors?
In the nearly 75 years since the first human-controlled sustained nuclear reaction was achieved on Dec. 2, 1942 at Stagg field in Chicago, nuclear power has grown to produce approximately 20% of the annual electricity consumed in the US and ~13% of worldwide electricity. The vast majority of current nuclear power reactors are based on light water reactor technology originally developed in the 1950s. Numerous new nuclear reactor concepts with significant improvements in performance, safety and economics have been proposed and/or deployed over the past 15 years. These concepts include so-called Generation III light water reactors with improved passive safety, small modular reactors with inherent passive safety that have the potential to be largely factory built and transported via rail or heavy duty trucks to the reactor site for final assembly, accident tolerant fuels that have the potential to increase coping time and reduce the consequences of a loss of coolant accident in existing light water reactors, and Generation IV reactors with improved thermodynamic efficiency, safety and reduced waste. In nearly all of these emerging new concepts, utilization of high performance materials are key for achieving their full potential. The potential role of SiC/SiC composites and other high performance materials in new and retooled nuclear power reactors will be discussed.