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Perfetti leading research projects in reactor fuel cycles, nuclear criticality safety

October 20, 2023 - by Kim Delker

Christopher Perfetti, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at The University of New Mexico, is the principal investigator of two large research projects focusing on nuclear reactor fuel cycles and nuclear criticality safety.

Photo: Chris Perfetti
Christopher Perfetti

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is funding “Using Depletion Sensitivity Analysis to Better Characterize Reactor Fuel Cycles” for $500,000 over three years. Perfetti describes the goal of this work as developing sensitivity and uncertainty analysis methods that improve our understanding of the sources of uncertainty that limit our ability to model nuclear fuel cycles.

This award was part of 24 research and development grant proposals announced this fall by the NRC totaling more than $11.7 million. Final awards will be issued by the end of January 2024. These awards are part of the University Nuclear Leadership Program, which provides grants to academic institutions to support research and development for nuclear science, engineering, technology, and related disciplines to develop a workforce capable of supporting the design, construction, operation and regulation of nuclear facilities, as well as safe handling of nuclear materials.

Perfetti is also leading a project funded by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Nuclear Criticality Safety Division called “Physics-based Nuclear Criticality Safety Validation of Heat-Source Plutonium.” The five-year, $600,000 project involves developing sensitivity and uncertainty analysis methods for validating nuclear criticality safety calculations for elevated-temperature systems containing heat-source plutonium, such as 238Pu. This work follows a Nuclear Criticality Safety Pipeline Partnership Program established by Perfetti with LANL in 2021.