New center to help advance global nuclear power safety

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new center at Penn State is bringing together experts from across the University in an effort to enhance the safety performance of existing nuclear power plants and promote safety design features for future advanced reactors in the United States and around the globe.

Arthur Motta, chair of Penn State's nuclear engineering program, said the Global Nuclear Power Safety (GNPS) Center was established at an ideal time.

"We're really excited about the center because nuclear power in this country has not been developing at the pace that we would like it to, but nuclear power abroad, especially in China, is going very strong," he said.

Nuclear power is picking up steam in other countries, explained Motta, because it does not emit greenhouse gases and it is able to produce power on a consistent, reliable basis.

The GNPS Center includes groups of faculty who specialize in the various topic areas of interest to nuclear safety, including nuclear fuel and materials, advanced instrumentation and control, innovative cooling enhancement, experimental support, system code development and education and training.

The center is directed by Fan-Bill Cheung, George L. Guillet Professor of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State, who has more than four decades of experience in nuclear power research and development, including more than 10 years at Argonne National Laboratory and 30 years at Penn State.

Cheung will coordinate the efforts among the center's group leaders and faculty members to take advantage of challenges and opportunities in the global nuclear realm.

"One advantage of being at Penn State for more than 30 years is that I have learned the capabilities and expertise of the faculty, not only in the college but across other units at the University," he said. "My responsibility is to leverage their expertise to maximize our efforts at the center."

Cheung will also explore U.S. and international communities to assess their nuclear research and development needs.

He said faculty involved with the center are already working to help ensure that a new high-power reactor being built in China will operate safely and efficiently.

"We would like to work with other countries that are developing nuclear power to provide assistance in creating their programs, as well as to ensure that they are generating nuclear power safely and economically," said Cheung.

The GNPS Center was established in early June, with a kick-off meeting held on June 23. The event was attended by representatives from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the State Nuclear Power Technology Research & Development Center and the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute, who toured various Penn State research facilities.

The center includes faculty from the College of Engineering, the College of Information Sciences and Technology, the Applied Research Laboratory, the Materials Research Institute and the Departments of Math and Materials Science and Engineering.

The center leverages existing research efforts funded by the NRC, Department of Energy, the Navy, the Electric Power Research Institute, Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and UJV Rez, a nuclear research institute in the Czech Republic, in order to enhance future efforts that will be conducted as part of the center.

"We are committing resources to this global effort to help other countries and to use our abilities and expertise to help nuclear power develop around the world. The Global Nuclear Power Safety Center is set to position the college and the University as a pioneer in helping to address global nuclear power safety concerns," said Motta.

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Last Updated July 07, 2016