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CE Professor Kerry Howe Receives $510K Contract for Water Quality Project

February 24, 2012

UNM Civil Engineering Associate Professor Kerry Howe has received a new one-year $510,000 research contract from the South Texas Project (STP) Nuclear Operating Company to investigate industrial water quality and treatment issues. The project will investigate how a hypothetical loss-of-coolant accident is affected by the quality of the cooling water. STP operates two commercial nuclear power reactors in Bay City, Texas. 

Pictured: Janet Leavitt, Prof. Kerry Howe, Lana Mitchell, and Kyle Hammond

Nuclear operating companies must remain vigilant to maintain the highest standards of safety to prevent and respond to all possible accidents.  The research team will set up experimental equipment that will circulate simulated power plant cooling water through a tank where corrosion reactions will occur and filtration assemblies where head loss will be monitored. 

Howe’s team includes post-doctoral researcher Dr. Janet Leavitt and graduate students Kyle Hammond and Lana Mitchell.  Leavitt has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from New Mexico State University and M.S. and PhD. degrees in Environmental Engineering from UNM.  Hammond, who has previously done work for STP in conjunction with LANL, recently completed his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico State University and is currently a graduate student at UNM in Mechanical Engineering.  Mitchell graduated from UNM in May with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and is continuing her education for a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering.

Howe’s research contract is part of a larger effort to ensure reactor safety at STP that includes collaborators at Los Alamos National Lab, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and consultants at Alion Science and Technology Corporation in Albuquerque.

Kyle Hammond connects fittings on a reverse osmosis system that will be used to produce water for corrosion experiments.