Department of Nuclear Engineering

US News and World Report again rated the Department of Nuclear Engineering number one in its field. The consistency of this ranking over many years has reflected the quality of scholarship by students and faculty in the department.

At the beginning of this academic year, the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES) was established in a joint effort with the MIT Energy Laboratory under the direction of Professor Mujid Kazimi, the Tokyo Electric Power Company Professor of Nuclear Engineering. The center's research programs will focus on advanced reactor and fuel cycle options that promote the economics, safety, and environmental aspects of nuclear energy. Dr. Pavel Hejzlar was appointed a program director for advanced reactors at CANES. CANES held an Independent Activities Period (IAP) seminar series on new directions for nuclear energy that included 8 lectures. In April, CANES held an international symposium on the role of nuclear energy in a sustainable environment that included 18 speakers and was attended by about 60 people.

In the area of radiation science and technology (RST) there has been an enormous growth of research in quantum information processing. Professor D. Cory heads this activity in the department. It has attracted large funding, a large number of students, and a large number of the best and brightest researchers at MIT and nationwide. Professor Cory is leading the experimental progress using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) techniques. A second area of research that is expected to have a large impact involves the nearly completed construction of a new micro-beam accelerator. Professor J. Yanch leads this effort. This facility has the remarkable capability of delivering a single charged particle (e.g., a proton) to a particular part of a single biological cell, thereby allowing for the first time the possibility of a first principles understanding of the interaction of radiation with biological materials. There are only two such facilities currently operating in the US at present.

Research in the fusion area is still dominated by the Alcator C-Mod tokamak led by Professor I. Hutchinson. This experiment is one of the leading experiments in the U.S. and, indeed, the international fusion program. Its focus continues to be in the areas of advanced tokamak physics and plasma-boundary interactions. Results obtained from Alcator C-Mod will have an important impact on the appropriate path for the U.S. fusion program with respect to a next generation, billion-dollar class, burning plasma experiment.

Professor Hutchinson spent the spring semester on sabbatical at the Australian National University as a Visiting Fellow in the Plasma Research Laboratory of the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering. He carried out experiments on the Heliac facility there studying the induction of plasma rotation using an internal biassing electrode.

Undergraduate Program

Eighteen students were enrolled in the undergraduate program during the past year, including 5 sophomores, 9 juniors, and 4 seniors. Two students completed requirements for the bachelor's degree in nuclear engineering.

Undergraduate curriculum development focuses on strong fundamentals with hands-on experiences in all aspects of nuclear science and engineering applications from energy, accelerators, medicine, research and policy. Two new courses are being developed by Professors Cory and Kadak in neutron science, reactor physics, and engineering of nuclear systems.

Graduate Program

The graduate program totaled 120 students during the fall term. Of this number, 25 were enrolled for their first term. Forty-four percent are specializing in radiation science and technology; 38 percent are working in fission and energy studies, and 18 percent in fusion. The department awarded 17 masters and 20 doctoral degrees during the academic year.

Professors Driscoll and Kazimi offered an expanded version of their course 22.351, Systems Analysis of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. The course covered various aspects of the in-core and out-of-core aspects of the fuel cycle and their impact on the economics, waste and proliferation-resistance of the fuel cycle. The expanded course included a special computational laboratory in which the students used four state of the art codes for reactor physics and thermal hydraulics to evaluate the benefits and costs of alternative fuel arrangements in the core, including thorium based fuel and a wide range of moderator to fuel ratio.

In Professor Czerwinski's class, 22.76 Nuclear Chemical Engineering, students performed plutonium-uranium separations with reactor irradiated materials.

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Faculty Honors, Awards, and Activities

Professor Freidberg served as chairman of the Nuclear Engineering Department Head's Organization (NEDHO) this past year. He also continues to serve as a member of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC). As part of his FESAC responsibilities, Professor Freidberg served as chairman of two important panels. One panel involved the decision as to whether the U.S. fusion program should proceed with a new $60M class stellarator proof-of-principle experiment. The second panel, still in the midst of its deliberations, involves the determination of the proper U.S. strategy with respect to a next generation burning plasma experiment.

Professor Michael J. Driscoll received the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished Teaching. This award acknowledges the tradition of high quality engineering education at MIT.

Professor George Apostolakis was elected Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission effective January 1, 2001. He continues to serve on the International Nuclear Technology Committee that advises the governments of three German states (Baden-Wurttemburg, Bavaria, and Hesse) on nuclear technology matters. He gave the keynote address at the International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (PSAM 5) in Osaka, Japan, on November 27, 2000. He continues to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Reliability Engineering and System Safety.

Professor Hutchinson was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK). He continues as honorary editor of Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion. He chaired a plenary session at the European Physical Society conference on Controlled Fusion and Plasma Physics and gave an invited lecture at the International Symposium on Fusion Engineering.

Professor Kazimi served as the Chairman of the MIT Research Reactor Safeguards Committee. He continues to chair the Hanford Waste Tank Advisory Panel (TAP) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-Richland that he has chaired since 1990. In April 2001, he gave an invited talk at the ninth International Conference on Nuclear Engineering (ICONE) in Nice, France on spent fuel management.

Professor Todreas was selected to give the inaugural Distinguished Lecture in Nuclear Energy by the department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering of the Pennsylvania State University in March, 2001. He was also appointed by the Department of Energy as Co-Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Development of the Technology Roadmap for Advanced Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems. His service continues on the National Nuclear Accrediting Board for operating nuclear reactor training programs.

Professor Todreas and three former students, one being Dr. Pavel Hejzlar, a current scientist in CANES, co-authored a second edition of the book Safety Features of Operating Light Water Reactors of Western Design, published this year.

Professor Czerwinski was a visiting professor at the organic chemistry group and nuclear science group at Conservatoire National des Arts et Mètiers, Paris for five weeks. This visiting professor position also involved teaching at Ecole Nationale Superieur de Chimie de Paris and actinide research with CEA in Saclay. Professor Czerwinski made three invited presentation on his research during the visiting professor position: "The Important Role of Speciation in Pu Waste Management" to COGEMA, in Marcoule, France; "Removal of Pu from Contaminate Sediment with Ozone and Ligands" at the University of Lyon; and "Selective Removal of Actinides with Templated Resins" at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Mètiers, Paris.

Professor Czerwinski completed his committee work for the National Research Council committee on Selecting Long Term Research Plan for the Deactivation and Decommissioning of Department of Energy Sites.

In July 2001, Professor Czerwinski will be a visiting instructor on actinide chemistry for the Department of Energy Radiochemistry Summer School at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Professor Czerwinski made two invited lectures on radioactive waste in the environment, "Transport of Pu by Clay Colloids" at NELRAD 01 held by Northeastern University and "Actinide Speciation for Waste Disposal" for the Air Force Radioactive and Mixed Waste Office at Brooks Air Force Base (AFB), Texas.

Professor Sidney Yip has continued to be active in materials modeling research in several ways: leading the atomistic simulation of materials group in the department which interacts with faculty colleagues and their groups in several other departments across the Institute; organizing two conferences, Symposium on Multiscale Materials Modeling, International Union of Materials Research Societies, Hong Kong, July 2000, and the Annual Meeting of Division of Computational Physics, American Physical Society, MIT, June 2001; and presenting invited talks at a number of national and international conferences, the latter being in Italy, Japan, and Greece. He inaugurated a summer course on atomistic simulations in materials processing at the National Tsinghua University in Taiwan. He is serving on the advisory boards for two directorates at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Physics and Advanced Technologies, and Chemistry and Materials Science.

Professor Yip accepted a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering beginning in September 2000.

Dr. Richard Lanza was elected a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Nuclear Science Radiation Instrumentation Steering Committee He is an external expert on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Regional Technical Cooperation Project on Humanitarian Demining and Technical Advisor, IAEA Cooperative Research Program on Bulk Hydrogen Measurement.

Professor Gordon L. Brownell received the Bernard H. Falk Award from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) at its 74th Annual Meeting in Chicago on November 13, 2000 for his development of positron imaging and positron emission tomography (PET). NEMA consists of leading executives from major companies active in development of new systems including imaging systems and in the establishment of standards. Professor Brownell and colleagues at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) developed the first positron imaging device for medical application in 1950 and have subsequently designed and built a number of systems including the first PET scanner in 1970. All of these systems have been placed in operation at MGH and some are still providing useful images for biological and medical research. PET imaging has proven to be very useful in identifying the nature of degenerative brain disease such as Parkinson and Alzheimer's diseases and in developing palliative measures. Studies in heart and cancer have also been highly successful.

The PAI Outstanding Teaching Award (awarded by the student chapter of the American Nuclear Society) was presented to Dr. Katherine Held, a lecturer in nuclear engineering.

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Professor Hansen and Professor Kazimi are leading a project investigating and modeling the processes by which nuclear energy policy is created and modified in industrialized democracies. The initial effort has been to create a "mapping" of the flow of cause and effect through the social/political system and then create quantitative representations of the actual processes. If successful the research will allow for nondestructive evaluation of various energy policies, including providing insight into how to shape the process so as to produce desirable outcomes

The award of a new Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) project expanded Professor Kazimi's program on advanced nuclear fuel cycles on the heterogeneous thorium-uranium Light Water Reactor (LWR) cores. This is in addition to the NERI awarded the year before on the homogenous thorium-uranium cores and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) supported project on the advanced fuels for Light Water Reactors.

A five year agreement for research collaboration with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was initiated with three projects: determinants of nuclear energy form a social-political context under the guidance of Professor Kent Hansen; modeling of thermal striping at piping joints under the guidance of Professor Kazimi; and improving the operations of nuclear power plants using risk-based information under the guidance of Professor Apostolakis. An earlier project on risk assessment of seismic events continued under the guidance of Professors Apostolakis and Golay.

Professor Neil Todreas is principal investigator for the following two-advanced nuclear reactor conceptual design projects. The first is a low power rating modular light water reactor being developed by an international consortium of industry, laboratory, utility, and universities led by Westinghouse and sponsored by the U.S. DOE's Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Program. The second is a large power rating lead-bismuth eutectic cooled fast spectrum reactor aimed at both low electricity production cost and actinide destruction being designed in collaboration and with the sponsorship of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.

Under the supervision of Professor Ronald M Latanision graduate students and postdoctoral fellows of the H.H. Uhlig Laboratory focused their research on supercritical water, a remarkable vehicle for the destruction of chemical wastes such as those generated in both military and civilian enterprise. While one school of research considers the use of noble metal liners as the means of providing corrosion resistance in reactors, we have focused on the use of more traditional corrosion resistant engineering alloys that are protected from corrosion by means of control of the in-reactor water chemistry. High temperatures-high pressure reference and pH electrodes are required to provide such control. Work is underway to demonstrate that this approach can be made practical for industrial service.

Professor Andy Kadak's conceptual design work continues on the modular pebble bed reactor (MPBR). Students are actively engaged in core neutronics and safety analysis. A state of the art fuel performance model for coated particle microsphere fuel is being developed under the guidance of Professor Ballinger. Advanced modularity concepts are being developed to allow for factory manufacture and site assembly that, if successful, could revolutionize how nuclear plants are built. Cooperative international benchmarking activities are proceeding through the International Atomic Energy Agency on an operating pebble bed plant in China and the proposed plant in South Africa. The conceptual design of the MIT version is at a point where design details of the balance of plant are being developed for the components. MIT's pebble bed reactor project is getting a great deal of media attention, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Popular Science, Washington Post, radio and television. Professor Kadak was asked to present his "license by test" strategy for licensing advanced reactors to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards in June. Heather MacLean, a graduate student working on the project, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources on the need for more incentives for graduate student enrollment in nuclear science and engineering.

Professor Czerwinski continued investigating the speciation of neptunium in spent nuclear fuel supported by DOE-NERI funds. This project is in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory. The project has initial results on neptunium interaction and speciation in the repository near field.

A joint project with Ecole Nationale Superieur de Chimie de Paris (ENSCP), Conservatoire National des Arts et Mètiers, Paris, and Los Alamos National Laboratory investigates lanthanide and actinide separations. Templated ion specific resins for uranium and thorium have been synthesized. The project is supported by the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award.

Through a University Research Collaboration (URC) project on Th fuel headed by Professor Kazimi, investigations on the behavior of Th fuel in a repository are continuing. Students Virginia Curran, Wendy Rattray, and Yoann Severstre examined the solubility of thorium oxide and synthesized ceramics with thorium and uranium. Synchrotron studies with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been made on the ceramics.

With Professors Kazimi and Todreas, a project on the release of radioactive polonium compounds from a hot lead-bismuth melt is investigated. The goal is to explore the feasibility of a direct contact heat transfer heavy liquid metal cooled fast reactor for actinide burning and power production. Particular emphasis is given to the study of the chemistry of polonium hydride, which plays a key role in the transport of the radioactive aerosols.

The development of effective soil washing techniques for the removal of actinides, primarily plutonium and americium, from contaminated soil examined the impact of ozone.

Radiation Science and Technology

Professor Sow-Hsin Chen and his graduate student Ciya Liao have formulated a theory for analysis of newly developed high resolution Inelastic X-ray Scattering (IXS) spectra from supramolecular assemblies and have applied this theory successfully to IXS spectra taken from model lipid bilayers. They were able to obtain the in-plane

phonon dispersion relations in both the gel and liquid crystalline phases of the bilayer for the first time, thus opening up a new field of studying molecular scale collective dynamics in biomaterials. The result was reported in the January 22 issue of the Physical Review Letters, 2001. For this work, Professor Chen was an invited speaker to the annual meeting of the Italian Physical Society, Condensed Matter Section, June 18-22, 2001 in Rome, Italy.

Professor Cory and his colleagues continue to make advances in the theory, practice and implementation of quantum information processing. Over the past year this has included the first exploration of decoherence control via noiseless subsystem encoding, and the first NMR demonstrations of entanglement transfers and quantum erasers.

Quantum Information Processing

Professor Cory and his students continue to explore NMR approaches to quantum information processing through a set of collaborations with Dr. T. Havel (Nuclear Engineering Department [NED]), Professor Seth Lloyd (Mechanical Engineering), Professor Eddie Farhi (Physics), Dr. Raymond Laflamme (Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL]), Dr. E. Knill (LANL), and Dr. J. Yepez (Air Force Rome Laboratory [AFRL]). Our liquid state NMR implementation of quantum information processing is now being implemented at the 10-qubit level. A complexity far beyond other approaches to quantum information processing.

We have started to construct a new scheme for extending the success of NMR approaches to Quantum Information Processing (QIP) to larger systems via a solid state device capable of coherently controlling 10-30 qubits. This is essential for exploring quantum error correction. We have also obtained funding to explore lattice gas computations on classically distributed quantum computers.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance of Heterogeneous Semi-solids

In collaboration with Dr. S. Singer and Dr. Pabitra Sen of Schlumberger Doll Research Laboratory we have continued to explore the structure and fluid dynamics of complex media. This has led to a new prognosticator of tumor grade for soft tissue sarcomas, and a new measure of local organization for heterogeneous samples. For the first time the effects of motion can be cleanly separated from the overall spin dynamics, which provides a simple and direct means of characterizing micron scale structures.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Neuron Structure and Function

In collaboration with Dr. Alan Jasanoff (a Whitehead Fellow at MIT), the neuron structure and response of blowflies is being explored at high resolution via NMR microscopy. The use of blowflies provides a stable and well-characterized test bed, while simultaneously permitting near cellular resolution in the NMR. The goal of the program is to observe neuron activity in living/functioning tissue with the markers being directly traceable to neuron biochemistry.

Radiation Biology

Professor Jeffrey Coderre joined the department in September, 2000 coming from Brookhaven National Laboratory where he spent many years developing the boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) program. Professor Coderre's research interests lie in the area of radiation biology, which will strengthen the bionuclear research area within the Radiation Science and Technology group. In January 2001, Professor Coderre was awarded a grant from the David Koch Cancer Research Fund entitled "Charged-Particle Microbeam Irradiations of Prostate Tumor Spheroids: A Micrometastasis Model." Professor Coderre is working with Professor Yanch on this project to use the accelerators in the Laboratory for Accelerator Beam Applications for development of a tumor micrometastasis model that allows the quantitative analysis of the effects of localized deposition of alpha particle radiation. This system will model radioimmunotherapy, where alpha-emitting nuclides attached to monoclonal antibodies are delivered non-uniformly to the surface of a tumor metastatic site, and will allow systematic studies on ways to improve prostate tumor therapy.

In July 2001, Professor Coderre was awarded a grant from the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research entitled "Mechanisms of High-LET Radiation Damage in Normal Lung." Co-workers on this grant include Professor Otto Harling, Dr. Peter Binns, and Dr. Kent Riley of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. This project will measure the sensitivity of the normal lung to the mix of radiations produced during BNCT and will investigate the possible application of BNCT for treatment of lung tumors. The project will also investigate the mechanisms by which radiation causes damage in the lung and will explore possible biochemical approaches to reduce these side effects.

Coded Aperture Imaging for Nuclear Medicine

As a result of a research project for contraband detection, we have developed a new nuclear medicine imaging technique which has improved the spatial resolution and sensitivity of radioisotope imaging and has opened up new areas, particularly in small animal imaging and other applications where high spatial resolution and sensitivity are required. Patents have been applied for the technique and we are expanding our research effort in collaboration with researchers at the MGH Molecular Imaging Research Center, and at the Radiology Departments of Beth Israel and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Contraband Detection

We have developed two new methods for the determination of elemental composition of materials in bulk. One uses prompt neutron activation and imaging of the emitted gamma rays, and the other uses neutron resonance radiography. We have an active collaboration with researchers in South Africa at the University of Witswatersrand and at deBeers. Both techniques have shown promise for industrial applications as well and we have applied for patents. This work is sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Intense Neutron Sources

In collaboration with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory, we have developed a windowless gas target, which permits the operation of pressurized gas targets without intervening windows. In addition to this application, we have been investigating its use for electron beam welding. The use of such a window would permit electron beam welding of large objects without the requirement of their being in a vacuum. The DOE sponsors this work.

Professor Otto Harling has continued his research in neutron capture therapy for cancer. During the last year a major new epithermal neutron irradiation facility (FCB) was completed. The neutron beam is based on a fission converter source, the first time this approach has been used for this purpose. The FCB has high intensity allowing irradiations to be completed in a few minutes. Beam purity is near theoretical optimum, which results in a doubling of the therapeutic ratio compared to the earlier irradiation facility. This medical irradiation facility is currently the best in the world for neutron capture therapy. Preparations are now in progress to begin clinical studies with the FCB. Clinical trials as before will be the responsibility of collaborating medical researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.


The Alcator C-Mod Experiment

Under the direction of Professor Ian Hutchinson, the Alcator C-Mod tokamak continued its studies in high-performance, compact magnetic plasma confinement. The upgrade to permit quasi-steady-state exploration of Advanced Tokamak operation with high fractions of self-generated current is proceeding well under the leadership of Professor Ronald Parker. It should be completed in about 18 months. In the subsequent plasma operations we will attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of steady-state tokamak operation attractive for future reactor application.

The phase-controlled antenna for RF heating, installed as part of a collaboration with Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, has been further upgraded. It now heats well without major undesirable side effects. However, so far it has not proven possible to drive significant plasma current with it. Establishing the reasons for the performance limitation is an important research topic since heating and current drive of this type is proposed for future major fusion experiments.

Plasma rotation studies of the spontaneous plasma spin up continue to provide insights into tokamak anomalous transport and its suppression. An internal transport barrier effect has been discovered. Particle diffusion is strongly reduced when heating the plasma approximately half way out. The resulting peaking of the density profile is accompanied by a strong decrease of the core rotation.

The high-resolution measurements of the sharp edge of the plasma are showing remarkable structure in the transport barrier and indicate that additional physics beyond ideal magnetohydrodynamics is essential to explain its stability. Under some circumstances on Alcator C-Mod the particle confinement of this edge transport barrier is reduced, allowing the density and impurities to be controlled. The specific instability that is responsible for this favorable

mode of operation has been characterized further and it has been demonstrated by short-range magnetic probing that it possesses a strong magnetic, as well as electrostatic component. The favorable operational characteristics observed on Alcator have spawned a number of activities on other research tokamaks to demonstrate similar benign particle control.

Levitated Dipole Experiment

The Levitated Dipole Experiment (LDX) represents a new concept exploration experiment funded by the DOE and was initially funded as a five-year research grant. LDX is a joint collaborative project with Columbia University and it will be located in NW21 at MIT. The principal investigators of this project are Dr. Jay Kesner of MIT and Professor Michael Mauel of Columbia University. The LDX facility is being designed by the engineering division of the Plasma Science Fusion Center (PSFC) under the leadership of Dr. J. Minervini.

When completed LDX will be the only superconducting magnetic confinement experiment in the American fusion research program. The design of the facility was largely completed during FY1998, and we are now in the construction phase. The vacuum chamber is in place in the Tara cell of NW21. The high performance Nb3Sn floating coil has been successfully tested and the cryostat is nearly complete. The high-TC levitation is expected to be completed by October 2001. The NbTi charging coil is expected to be arriving at MIT in December 2001. The first plasma results are expected in the spring of 2002.

The levitated dipole experiment represents a new and innovative approach to magnetic fusion, which will utilize a levitated superconducting coil to confine plasma in a dipole magnetic field. The concept was inspired by the observations of high pressure plasmas and can be confined by planetary dipole magnetic fields, such as the magnetosphere, which surrounds Jupiter. Compared with the traditional fusion approaches the levitated dipole may permit the confinement of higher-pressure plasmas with reduced cross-field transport. The project has been funded as a five-year grant with an approximate annual budget of $1.4 million (shared between MIT and Columbia University). The construction of the project will take place during the initial four-year period.

Plasma Theory

Professor Freidberg and Antonio Bruno, a graduate student, have developed a new theory to predict the anomalous heat transport coefficient observed in Reversed Field Pinches. The basic idea is to calculate steady state profiles assuming the plasma has relaxed to a lowest energy state consistent with being marginally stable to tearing modes.

Professor Freidberg and Mike Thomas, a graduate student, have developed an magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) linear stability code for axisymmetric toroidal geometries including the tokamak. The model treats the ideal MHD model and includes the effect of toroidal equilibrium flow and a resistive wall.

MIT's levitated dipole experiment is nearing completion of its construction phase. One important issue concerns the existence and behavior of large plasma convective cells. Such cells, depending upon their behavior, might have either a favorable or unfavorable impact on heat and particle transport. A project has been initiated by Professor Freidberg, Dr. J. Kesner, and Alexi Kouznetsov, a graduate student, to determine the conditions under which such cells might develop and their resulting impact on transport.

Fusion-Fission Hybrids

Under the direction of Professor Ron Parker good progress is being made toward the goal of achieving the necessary conditions for a net-energy producing fusion reactor that has led to a reexamination of the symbiotic possibilities for fusion-fission hybrids. The concept is not new, having been explored for example in a series of papers by Professor L. Lidsky beginning in the late 1960s. In the present work, two configurations have been considered. The first makes use of the fast neutrons generated by fusion reactions to transmute the minor actinides (MAs) in the spent fuel from present-day light water reactors. The second uses the fusion neutrons to drive a subcritical Thorium blanket.

In the case of the actinide burner, it was found that 2-3 fusion reactors with the general characteristics of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion reactor, now under consideration for construction in Europe or Japan, could transmute the entire annual MA production from the present U.S. fleet of light water reactors. At the same time, the thermal power generated by fission of the MAs in each reactor will be sufficient to generate about1000 MW of electricity.

In the second study, the features of a fusion reactor having the parameters of the present ITER design but partially surrounded with a Th-U233 breeding blanket are being elaborated. Since the fission system is driven by fast neutrons, its performance is insensitive to the buildup of fission products. Consequently, high burnup fractions can be achieved and the time before refueling is required might be extended to 20 years, the latter being determined by material fluence limits rather than the buildup of fission products. A particularly attractive feature of this hybrid concept is the low level of transuranic (TRU) waste that would be generated (e.g., < 1 kg after 30 GW-yr of operation). A high-degree of passive safety is inherent in this concept since the reactor operates far below criticality and the thermal inertia of the fusion system is sufficient to safely limit the thermal response of the system to afterheat.

The work on the actinide burner was carried out by a team of students under the guidance of Professors Golay, Kadak, and Parker, while the design of the Thorium burner was developed by V. Tang, a graduate student, under Professor Parker's supervision.

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Student Awards and Activities

Extracurricular NED student functions centered on the MIT American Nuclear Society Student Branch. There have been many social and athletic events during the year reflecting the interests of its members. The every other Monday afternoon seminar series, NED orientation for incoming students, the holiday party, and the international dinner are a few of the successful events from the past year.

The MIT Chapter of the Alpha Nu Sigma Society, a national honor society for students in applied nuclear science and nuclear engineering, recognized six graduate students and two undergraduate students for their outstanding academic achievement. The MIT Health Physics Society Student Branch's activities are focused on environmental radiation transport, radiobiology, and radiation detection and measurement.

A number of students were recognized at the annual international dinner/awards ceremony in May 2001.

Antonio Romano received the Manson Benedict Fellowship awarded to a graduate student for excellence in academic performance and professional promise in nuclear engineering.

Twiggy Gi Gi Chan received the Roy Axford Award for academic achievement by a senior in nuclear engineering.

Ian Parrish received the Irving Kaplan Award for academic achievement by a junior in nuclear engineering

Graduate students Karen L. Noyes and Randi J. Cohen shared the Outstanding Student Service Award in recognition of exceptional services to the students, the department and the entire MIT community.

Graduate students Zhiwen Xu and Dean Wang shared the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of exceptional services to education by a teaching assistant.

A graduate student, Wei Cai, in the atomistic simulation of materials group in the department took first place in the competition for the Lawrence Fellow award at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

On behalf of the Scholarship Policy and Coordination Committee, Heather MacLean received the ANS James F. Schumar Scholarship Award, Christopher Melhaus received the ANS Everett P. Blizard Scholarship Award, Virginia Curran received the ANS John D. Randall Memorial Scholarship Award, and Karen Noyes and Christina Sherman each received the ANS Graduate Scholarship Award.

Jeffrey P. Freidberg

More information about the Department of Nuclear Engineering can be found online at

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