UNM nuclear engineers part of $25 million Department of Energy consortium

February 22, 2021 - by Kim Delker

Researchers from The University of New Mexico’s Department of Nuclear Engineering have been selected to be part of a multi-institutional, five-year, $25 million grant awarded by the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Leading the UNM team are Anil Prinja, professor of nuclear engineering, and Osman Anderoglu, associate professor of nuclear engineering.

The research will cover the areas of nuclear material science, radiochemistry and nuclear chemistry, nuclear physics and nuclear data, radiation detection and nuclear engineering.

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia national laboratories will work with the consortium on this research.

UNM’s share of the project is $1.25 million. The team will focus on materials synthesis and additive manufacturing, and modeling radiation transport in strongly stochastic environments to conduct research in NNSA mission-critical areas. The consortium funding will support graduate student research, development of educational materials to provide specialized knowledge to the next generation of nuclear security professionals, as well as facilitate collaborations with researchers at Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore as well as consortium university partners.

UNM will focus on two main research topics:

  • Anderoglu will lead research into the impact of modern manufacturing processes on nonproliferation measures. The team will investigate if non-export controlled raw materials can be used for additive manufacturing processes from multiple powder feeders leading to high-strength alloys or other export-controlled materials enabling the fabrication of critical non-proliferation-related infrastructure.
  • Prinja will lead research in stochastic media radiation transport and nuclear signature analysis. Stochastic radiation fields (neutral particles and thermal radiation) play a central role in understanding threats and developing solutions in forefront nuclear security applications while also presenting a significant theoretical and computational modeling challenge. The team will develop robust stochastic material treatments and stochastic transport equation closures to improve mixed-material radiation transport capabilities in code packages at the national laboratories, and probabilistic formulations for nuclear signature modeling and analysis, including neutron multiplicity distributions, neutron population extinction and divergence probabilities, and stochastic fission number and fission energy deposition.

The consortium is led by the University of California, Berkeley.

Other members of the consortium are:

  • Air Force Institute of Technology
  • George Washington University
  • Michigan State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville