By Leslie Wright
For Dr. Todd Palmer, all roads lead back to Oregon State University.

Palmer spent his childhood in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from high school in Nebraska, he enrolled at OSU, and eventually earned a degree in nuclear engineering.

After completing graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and scientific computing from the University of Michigan, as well as a three-year stint at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he returned home in 1995 and accepted a teaching position at OSU.

Palmer also has ties to Idaho.

The nuclear science and engineering professor was one of the driving forces behind OSU joining the National University Consortium (NUC) when it was established in 2005 by participating in the school's bid. OSU, The Ohio State University, University of New Mexico, MIT and North Carolina State University make up the NUC, a research collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory.

Over his years of participation with NUC, Palmer has worked on several laboratory directed research and development programs, including the Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment, or MOOSE. He has also collaborated on the resumption of transient testing program, TREAT, which is scheduled to restart in 2018.

Palmer also has connections with NuScale, an Oregon-based company that builds small modular reactors. He holds a patent with NuScale for startup simulations he adapted from a graduate school project.

NuScale is planning to build the first operational SMR on INL's desert Site. The SMR could begin delivering power to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) by 2024. UAMPS provides electricity to more than 40 cities in seven western states. Its biggest customer is Idaho Falls Power.

Palmer attended the NUC Annual Review Meeting at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies with students who spent the summer as interns at INL. The OSU contingent included Jackson Harter, who returned to the lab for his second year, and Tony Alberti.

Both had the opportunity to interact with MOOSE during their time at INL, and Palmer said the experience benefited them.

"I've had nothing but great experiences sending interns here," he said.

Over the next year, Palmer expects his involvement with NUC to grow. He will soon become the associate head of NSE at Oregon State, and said he plans to continue to participate as a researcher and a mentor of students as well.

OSU is hopeful that further projects will be formalized within the coming months, and Palmer would like nothing more than to be at the forefront of these developments.

"I'm excited about the relationship that INL and OSU have built through NUC," Palmer said.
December 2016
Following a 37-year career, including 17 years at Idaho National Laboratory, Brent Stacey, National & Homeland Security (N&HS) associate laboratory director, announced his retirement.

Stacey spent more than 30 years working in information technology and cybersecurity in electric utility and related government markets. He has served as CEO, president, vice president, and CIO for small- to mid-sized domestic and international companies. Just prior to joining INL as part of the new Battelle Energy Alliance contract, Stacey served as CIO for Argonne National Laboratory for three years. Previously, Brent served as INL’s Chief Information Officer as well as the laboratory’s Technology Deployment director.

Zachary Tudor replaced Stacey. Tudor had been the N&HS deputy associate laboratory director. Prior to joining INL in June 2016, Tudor was program director in the Computer Science Laboratory at SRI International, where he served as a management and technical resource for operational and research and development cybersecurity programs for government, intelligence, and commercial projects supporting DHS's Cyber Security Division on multiple projects.

Tudor serves as a member of (ISC)2's Application Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Cyber Security Working Group, and he also serves as the vice chair of the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection at George Washington University.

Prior to SRI, Tudor led a team of cybersecurity engineers and analysts directly supporting the Control Systems Security Program at DHS, whose mission is to reduce the cybersecurity risk to critical infrastructure systems. Past assignments include on-site deputy program manager for the National Reconnaissance Office's worldwide operational network, information security manager for the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Chief Information Officer’s Enterprise Operations Support Team, security management support for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and several senior-level consulting positions including vice president of SAIC's Enabling Technology Division and senior manager for DOD programs at BearingPoint's Security Practice.
December 2016
By Leslie Wright
Idaho National Laboratory's National University Consortium provides collaborative opportunities for INL researchers to strengthen their R&D portfolios and strive to meet the nation's strategic nuclear energy objectives by partnering with professors, students and researchers at five universities across the country: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the Ohio State University, Oregon State University and the University of New Mexico. The NUC Annual Review Meeting, held in mid-August in Idaho Falls, provided an opportunity for these academics to meet with each other and INL employees to discuss the current state of NUC projects and plan future collaborations. Several of the 44 NUC interns who had worked at INL over the summer also attended.

Following a full-day tour of INL facilities by students and new members on the desert Site, including the Materials and Fuels Complex, Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 Atomic Museum, and TREAT Transient Test Reactor, participants gathered in a conference room for presentations concerning specific Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) projects with both NUC and INL involvement.

Efficient low-resolution codes for thermal hydraulics

INL's Bob Youngblood spoke on behalf of several North Carolina State University researchers about "Computationally Efficient Prediction of Containment Thermal Hydraulics Using Multi-Scale Simulation." Youngblood explained that by comparing high-resolution simulations to low-resolution simulations and adding corrections to make the low-resolution simulations faithful to reality, his collaboration can use these low-resolution simulations, rather than the more costly and time-consuming high-resolution simulations, by learning how to correct for what is lost by going to low resolution. "Truth is low-resolution code runs plus corrections," he said. The goal is to show that it will be feasible for researchers to machine-learn from a limited number of high-resolution simulations, ultimately saving time and money on future projects. By using this method to model parts of reactors, engineers will be able to more efficiently analyze new types of reactors. Youngblood's collaborators include Nam Dinh, Igor Bolotnov, Han Bao and Botros Hanna, all of North Carolina State.


A whole new regime for neutron dosimetry

Joseph Morris, a graduate student from University of New Mexico, spoke about using novel interrogation of optical materials with known effects in the optical material to perform neutron dosimetry. He, along with Sebastien Teysseyre of INL and his mentor Adam Hecht of UNM, have been verifying how nuclear damage changes the optical characteristics of crystals, including the refraction index, using novel measurement methods, and using this data to make predictions about changing nuclear materials. Morris explains that using high-precision dosimetry technology is a nondestructive method that can be used in bulk and will provide an immediate readout. Over the next fiscal year, Morris hopes to collaborate further with INL, in addition to ongoing partnerships with Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico. Hecht, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at UNM, remarked that this research could "open a whole new regime of materials for neutron dosimeters."


Extending MOOSE capabilities

Several speakers from the Ohio State University presented on their work involving Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE) to enhance its capabilities. Rachit Aggarwal described his work, which has included working with a Steam Generator Hardware-in-the-Loop setup and a RAVEN-added network interface. Shanbin Shi and Xiaodong Sun have been working on a Thermal Nonequilibrium Drift Flux Model to provide a complementary tool for ongoing programs, including Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) software RELAP-7. Further research has been done by Sha Xue and Jinsuo Zhang to "extend MOOSE capabilities in the area of corrosion, chemical interactions and accident of LWR fuels." This project is led by Hongbin Zhang at INL in collaboration with Carol Smidts, Xiaodong Sun and Jinsuo Zhang.


Predicting radiation-induced microstructural change with MOOSE

Miaomiao Jin, a Ph.D. student at MIT under Dr. Michael Short in collaboration with Cody Permann at INL, discussed modeling longtime evolution of radiation-induced defects with Cluster Dynamics in MOOSE. She demonstrated the implementation of a cluster dynamics framework in MOOSE, adding acceleration techniques, accounting for spatial dependence and linking results to the estimation of macro properties such as hardening and void swelling.


Efficient TREAT modeling capabilities with graphite data improvement

This project led by Mark DeHart of INL includes collaborations with NC State, OSU, UNM and MIT. Carl Haugen at MIT, a student of Benoit Forget, studied thermal neutron scattering in modeling the TREAT Reactor System using OpenMC simplifying the computations, eliminating the need for large data tables, and providing an on-the-fly thermal neutron scattering capability that will allow continuous computation of energy, temperature and scattering angle.


Toni Alberti at OSU, under advisor Todd Palmer, worked with Mark DeHart and Javi Ortensi of INL to study steady state modeling of the minimum critical core of TREAT to work towards a high fidelity TREAT simulation model. This model will reduce the number of calibration experiments, provide a predictive capability for TREAT and save time and money for the facility and experimenters. 


ColbySorrell and Ayman Hawari at North Carolina State collaborated with Mark DeHart and John Bess at INL to look at MCNP modeling of TREAT, focusing on the graphite. Initial experiments show good agreements with the experimental data and preliminary molecular dynamics models representing nuclear graphite as a porous structure have been created.


As part of the ATF Fuel Irradiation program, collaborators at the University of New Mexico are developing a pool boiling and flow boiling experimental facility. A variety of instruments are being developed, including a capacitance-based void sensor under development at UNM. The initial development efforts at UNM include measuring void fraction and distinguishing boiling regimes based on measured capacitance in flow-boiling, in-pile water loop fuel testing and flow loop.


Nuclear Hybrid Energy Systems

As part of NUC's Nuclear Hybrid Energy Systems Project, led by Shannon Bragg-Sitton at INL, researchers J.M. Doster and S. Terry at North Carolina State are modeling potential electric and thermal energy storage systems integrated with nuclear systems, as well as modeling anticipated transient behavior and response of subsystems.

As part of the same program, Oregon State researcher Q. Wu with student researcher Kyle Hoover performed limited scaling and numerical simulation experiments on MASLWR data to validate RELAP5-3D models and develop a new set of scaling parameters so the RELAP5-3D model can be used for hybrid energy studies. Researchers at the Ohio State University led by Carol Smidts are assessing the aging and degradation of key components on the implementation of online system control. Milestones for year two involve completing the MASLWR RELAP5 models and completing the design of the online monitoring system and distributed test facility application interfaces.


Supercritical CO2 corrosion and stress corrosion cracking

An Oregon State student researcher, Lucas Teeter, is examining supercritical CO2 corrosion and stress corrosion cracking of an iron-nickel-chrome alloy under the direction of Julie Tucker at OSU and Sebastien Teysseyre at INL. During the coming year, stress tests will begin in an unpressurized autoclave to get baseline stress material interactions at temperature, and SCC tests will be conducted under stress at environmental conditions.


NUC University Reports

Speakers from each university also gave a short review of their school's participation in NUC over the past year.


Charles Forsberg said MIT spent the past fiscal year providing reactor time for irradiations, as well as participating in research concerning firebrick heated energy storage (FIRES) and MOOSE. MIT collaborated with INL and National Renewable Energy Laboratory on a workshop, and sent several professors and students on trips to help facilitate research goals. Looking forward, Forsberg said MIT plans to turn its focus to hybrid systems where LWRs are integrated with thermal storage systems to provide peak electricity and heat to industry to improve near-term economics, as well as to TREAT reactor modelling.


North Carolina State

"This was a good year for NUC at NC State," said Yousry Azmy. An NUC workshop titled "Severe Accidents: Emerging R&D Needs and Approaches," organized by Nam Dinh and Igor Bolotnov, focusing on accident management was held at the university. The event drew 60 participants from Industry, academia, national laboratories, international institutions and regulators. Researchers have been working on two different LDRD projects in conjunction with INL. NC State plans to use its 2017 NUC funding to continue working on these LDRDs, host another workshop and send faculty to INL to continue to expand synergistic activities.


The Ohio State University

NUC helps fund six students attending the Ohio State University. Professor Carol Smidts said ongoing research includes studies of online monitoring system design and test facilities for nuclear hybrid energy systems, improving MOOSE/BISON capabilities on interactions between oxide fuel and coolant water, measuring the thermodynamic properties of typical fission products in coolant water, and two other projects. In the upcoming fiscal year, OSU researchers hope to pursue two more LDRDs and participate in joint research with INL in robotics.


Oregon State University

Oregon State University NUC participants have been focused on fuel developments, transient testing, and Nuclear Advanced Modeling and Simulations (NEAMS). Projects from the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years are ongoing, and continue to show promise. Wade Marcum said 2017 should bring an expansion of joint appointments, as well as continuation of research concerning metals corrosion and MOOSE modeling. Marcum said he hopes OSU can move beyond nuclear engineering in the near future.


University of New Mexico

Adam Hecht said UNM's involvement in NUC has included research into the disposal path of electro-refiner waste and nuclear air-Brayton cycles in addition to the LDRD projects mentioned above, as well as students taking advantage of NUC funding. He is hopeful the coming fiscal year will include additional research on nuclear reactor materials, and should also bring the appointment of two new junior faculty in the nuclear engineering department at UNM.


Breakout sessions on new areas of collaboration

Breakout sessions challenged attendees to consider new ideas in areas that included nuclear reactor technologies, nuclear fuels and materials, information, sensors, instrumentation and controls, nuclear applications of robotics, hybrid energy systems, NEAMS-related code development, validation and uncertainty quantification, nuclear waste topics and nuclear non-proliferation and forensics. A session on developing "big ideas" also generated several topics for future consideration.


The last word

Marsha Bala, deputy director of the NUC program at INL, said NUC is meant to enable a true partnership between the lab and each of the five universities. INL was pleased to see a large increase in interns from the NUC universities from 27 last year to 44 this year, as well as increased publications: 32 so far in 2016. NEUP funding is also up this past year, as is the number of awards with INL partners. She noted that while collaboration has been fruitful over the past year, she encouraged attendees to continue to work with each other and INL employees, and to conduct and publish even more joint research in the upcoming years. Several follow-on individual breakout workshops are being planned in FY-17.
December 2016
​Save the date
The NUC quarterly meeting is scheduled for Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 24. Additional information will be available soon.

Reports examine hybrid energy systems

A collaborative effort between DOE’s offices of Nuclear Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and their respective lead laboratories, Idaho National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has culminated in the publication of a series of reports. They thoroughly analyze the potential economic and environmental benefits of hybrid energy systems for electricity and industrial uses such as hydrogen production and desalination.
Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (N-R HESs) can enable low-carbon, on-demand electricity while providing reduced-emission thermal energy for industrial processes. However, the economic feasibility of these systems may depend on future natural gas prices, electricity market structures, and clean energy incentives.

A series of new reports from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and INL examines various hybrid system configurations to provide a basis to identify opportunities for clean energy use and the most economically viable configurations. The reports represent an ongoing collaborative effort at many levels within INL, among the involved national labs and their respective DOE offices.

More detail and links to the reports can be found on INL, DOE-NE and DOE-EERE websites.

INL part of a new institute

Idaho National Laboratory will be part of a new institute focused on developing breakthrough technologies for industrial manufacturing processes. The Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute is the U.S. Department of Energy's fourth Manufacturing USA Institute. It aims to boost domestic energy productivity and efficiency by 20 percent in five years by focusing on industries that include oil and gas, pulp and paper, and chemical manufacturing.

The institute is led by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). INL is part of the institute's governing board, which includes representatives from industry and two national labs. INL was also instrumental in engaging industry to identify technical challenges, understand industry needs and build support needed to enable the Institute to meet cost-share requirements for the award. The RAPID governing board will work with DOE over the coming months to decide on specific research efforts.
Details about the institute are in these news releases from the Department of Energy and AIChE.

EBR 1 celebrates anniversary

Idaho National Laboratory’s Experimental Breeder Reactor-I Atomic Museum celebrated 65 years since the reactor first made electricity.

The EBR-I museum, located 50 miles west of Idaho Falls off U.S. Highway 20, is typically only open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. But the museum opened Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to honor a significant moment 65 years ago: At 1:23 p.m. on Dec. 20, 1951, nuclear power for the first time provided a generator with enough electricity to power four 200-watt light bulbs.

The following day, the reactor powered the full building. EBR-I operated until 1963. President Lyndon Johnson dedicated the reactor as a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is one of 10 National Historic Landmarks in Idaho.
The museum also includes displays on EBR-I’s sibling, Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, which once powered most of the site.

More than 250,000 visitors have come into the museum since it opened in 1975.
December 2016
Dec.14, 2016 - 3:15 p.m.
The Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) today announced nearly $35 million, subject to appropriations, for 28 higher education institutions from 25 states across the country to set up and operate regional Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs).
Read article here:
December 2016
By Jaime Cookson
Miamiao Jin is a student from China who is enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she studies nuclear science and engineering.

Her internship at Idaho National Laboratory involved studying the process of radiation damage to materials by building new applications and frameworks. This effort will "effectively accelerate the development of material design in nuclear applications," Jin said.

Jin said her experience at INL was enhanced by collaborating with the MOOSE (Multiphysics Object Oriented Simulation Environment) team, with whom she worked to build these frameworks. Jin said she enjoyed working with a "great bunch of colleagues," and that her mentor was very helpful in answering all of her questions.

Jin said she hoped this research will ultimately be a major part of her Ph.D. thesis, and that working with a mentor who is an expert in coding was essential to her success, because it exposes her to a new set of skills she will be able to return to MIT with.

"Combining the expertise of my advisor and the expertise of my mentor here, it will be very helpful to develop my Ph.D. thesis," Jin said.

Outside of work, Jin called her Idaho experience "spectacular." She enjoyed visiting Yellowstone National Park and being able to commute to work by bike, riding along the Snake River. Jin attended local Independence Day celebrations, and said that seeing so many people gathered for the holiday was a moment she will never forget.

Overall, Jin said that her INL internship was very meaningful and that she would encourage other students to take advantage of INL internships if they are able to.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to do this internship here," she said. "If you have the chance to get here, then do it."
December 2016
By Jaime Cookson
A student at the University of New Mexico, Luis Quinones started working toward his master's degree in September. At INL, he spent the summer working on a cybersecurity project designed to elevate the awareness of the cyber world. This will impact not just the industry, he said, but will also have an effect "in every single aspect of our lives."

Quinones said that his intern experience at INL was excellent, and that he appreciated the opportunity to expand his knowledge of electronics engineering, a field in which he hopes to work. Equally importantly, though, his months at INL also offered him a new tool in nuclear engineering.

Quinones said he is enthusiastic about having access to high quality mentorship, and said that he learned something new every day. 

"The relationship with my mentor is fundamental at this point in my career," he said. "It gives me the confidence to expand my knowledge and to express all of my ideas. I think the mentorship is just first class."

When he is not working, Quinones is an avid triathlete, and he learned to hike while in Idaho.

Looking toward the future, Quinones said that his INL experience allowed him to see where the nuclear industry is and how it will be shaped in the future. His internship showed him what areas he should study and the tools he will need to become a well-rounded engineer.

Quinones said his experience at INL was eye-opening, and he believes it will be a fundamental step toward accomplishing his future goals.
December 2016