Through MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) you can participate in a range of research projects and activities in the Nuclear Reactor Lab. Collaborate with research scientists or faculty over the summer or through the academic year. Contact Gordon Kohse, or visit MIT’s UROP website to learn more.

Current UROP Openings

Hydraulic Characterization of next-generation MIT Reactor Fuel Element Design

The on-campus MIT Research Reactor is designed for experiments using neutron beam and in-core irradiation facilities. In the framework of non-proliferation policy, our reactor has committed to convert from high-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Converting to LEU requires optimizing the fuel element design to maintain large safety margins. The past thermal-hydraulic studies performed to support the LEU core licensing relied on flow distribution parameters that were adopted from the HEU configuration.

The goal of this project is to quantify flow distribution patterns within the newly designed LEU element using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations at nominal and off-nominal flow rates. In addition, the numerical evaluation of the pressure drop across the element and the element inlet/outlet nozzles would provide an assessment of current penalties that are utilized in thermal‑hydraulic calculations. The ultimate outcome is to decrease uncertainty in safety margins evaluations of the next-generation fuel element.

We are looking for a UROP who has basic knowledge (or is interested in learning) of the CFD tool STAR-CCM+. The work would be a direct contribution to the MIT community and provide hands-on experience in using numerical tools for addressing real-world problems. Displayed below is a CAD of the fuel element you will be simulating! If you are interested in working with us, please contact Dr. Akshay Dave.