• >Home
  • >News
  • >2023
  • >January
  • >UNM, Purdue develop validated physics-based machine learning autonomous control architecture for microreactors

UNM, Purdue develop validated physics-based machine learning autonomous control architecture for microreactors

January 9, 2023 - by Kim Delker

A team from The University of New Mexico, Purdue University, Argonne National Laboratory and Curtiss-Wright Corp. has received the 2022 Department of Energy Nuclear Engineering University Program award.

For the three-year project, the collaborative team will develop a validated, physics-based, machine-learning, autonomous-control architecture for the UNM very small, long-life modular (VSLLIM), a liquid sodium, natural circulation-cooled microreactor, as well as demonstrate its application for remotely operating and controlling the PUR-1 research reactor at Purdue University.

At UNM, the Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Institute for Space and Nuclear Power will be working on the project, with Distinguished and Regents’ Professor Mohamed S. El-Genk as the principal investigator from UNM.

The Purdue team has expertise in algorithm development for signal encryption, operator support, anomaly detection, machine vision and artificial intelligence techniques, including deep neural networks and fuzzy logic. This complements UNM’s expertise in microreactor design, neutronics, thermal hydraulics and safety analyses, modeling and simulation, nuclear reactor cybersecurity, and modeling digital instrumentation and control systems.

Argonne has significant expertise and a history of exceptional science and engineering research in remote operation and control of advanced nuclear reactor systems, and Curtiss-Wright has considerable experience in digital instrumentation and control design and was the design engineer responsible for the PUR-1 digital instrumentation and control.

The award will offer minority undergraduates and graduate students at Purdue and UNM the opportunity to participate in the research activities and conduct portions at Argonne. Upon graduation, they will contribute to the workforce supply chain the necessary technical capabilities to address Department of Energy mission priorities, El-Genk said.

The knowledge and capabilities to be developed as a part of this effort can also be leveraged to benefit the light water reactor sustainability and advanced sensor and instrumentation national research and development efforts, he said.