Research - Nuclear Science and Engineering - Colorado School of Mines

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Reactor design

Advanced Reactors

Nuclear power is now in its sixth decade, and considered by many to be an essential component of efforts to limit climate change. However, the events at Fukushima, low gas prices, and long standing concerns over waste disposal and weapons proliferation have put its future in doubt as never before. The sustainability of nuclear power as a low carbon energy source will require a new generation of reactors and fuel cycles that are safer and that will reduce environmental and geopolitical impacts. Future reactors will need to take advantage of advanced design and construction techniques to reduce capital costs, operational risk, and the generation of waste. MORE »

Nuclear fuel cycle

Nuclear Fuel Cycles

In its simplest terms, Nuclear Fuel Cycles encompass all of the processes that affect the material and isotopic streams that move into, through, and out of nuclear reactors. Because of this, research on Nuclear Fuel Cycles sits at the heart of the environmental, economic and geopolitical issues that surround the use and development of nuclear energy systems in this country and abroad. MORE »


Radiochemistry and Nuclear Forensics

Radiochemists study the chemistry of radioactive elements or use radioactivity to probe chemical reactions. The discipline sits at the heart of many parts of the nuclear enterprise and plays key roles in national security, environmental remediation and waste disposal, the reprocessing of nuclear fuel, nuclear medicine, and even in understanding the organization of the periodic table of the elements. MORE »

Nuclear security

Nuclear Security

Limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons is essential to the long term sustainability of nuclear power. Critical to this effort is the development of methods with which to protect, control, and account for nuclear materials at every point within the nuclear fuel cycle. Faculty in our program are working on technologies to detect nuclear materials hidden in luggage or shipping containers, to better inventory and store used nuclear fuel, and to enhance methods for detecting clandestine nuclear weapons tests. Our faculty and research staff are also working on advanced nuclear fuel cycles that will limit the overall production of weapons useable material. MORE »

Radiation detection

Radiation Detection and Measurement

The detection and measurement of radiation plays a critical role in medicine, material science, reactor operations, nuclear interdiction, chemical analysis, and fundamental physics to understand the origins of the universe. Improving the physical technologies that are used to register measurements, as well as the algorithms to process the data, remain important areas of research. MORE »


Materials in Extreme Environments

Overcoming the performance limits of current generation materials is among the greatest technical obstacles to the long term sustainability of nuclear power. Fast reactors that can run without the need for enrichment or reprocessing would be a major advance both economically and in their proliferation resistance. While research has shown that reactors such as these are possible, a practical implementation would require materials that can tolerate atomic displacement rates and levels far beyond what is currently possible. MORE »


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