NSE - Nuclear Science & Engineering at MIT


Bren Pillips

Bren Phillips

Research Scientist


Reactor Thermal-Hydraulics Laboratory overview slideshow


Bren Phillips joined the NSE department as a Research Scientist in February 2017. Prior to joining the MIT research staff he worked at Alden Research Laboratory working on various thermal hydraulic projects, including working with nuclear plants on their resolution to GSI-191. Prior to working at Alden he was a post-doctoral associate in the MIT NSE department working on advanced diagnostic boiling heat transfer experiments. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 2014 for investigations into subcooled flow boiling utilizing non-invasive diagnostic techniques. Before attending graduate school, he worked at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. His Work at Bettis included reactor design work on the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, specifically investigating criticality safety and reflector design. Later at Bettis he was worked in operations training at the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Goose Creek, SC where he trained U.S. Navy personnel in the safe operation of Naval Nuclear Power Plants.


Boiling Heat Transfer

Design and develop boiling experiments using advanced diagnostics such as high speed video (HSV), high speed infrared (IR) thermometry, and particle image velocimetry (PIV). These methods allow the measurement of many boiling parameters that have been difficult to quantify in the past.

Accident Tolerant Fuels

Accident Tolerant Fuels (ATF) are nuclear fuel concepts that have enhanced safety during accident scenarios over the traditional Zircaloy /UO2 fuel system. Developing predictive models for new fuel systems requires experimental testing to inform the models such as oxidation kinetics in a steam environment, quenching of the fuel, and investigation of pellet clad interaction (PCI).

Fouling Resistant Materials

Fouling impedes heat transfer, increases pressure drops, and increases corrosion of components. The development of surfaces that resist the unwanted deposition of impurities in a flow and heat transfer system can increase the lifetime of components and allow fluid and heat transfer systems to operate more efficiently.


Recent Publications

  1. W. Byers, G. Wang, Z. Karoutas, B. Phillips, “Critical Heat Flux Impact Due to Cladding Surface Condition,” Top Fuel 2016, Boise, ID, U.S.A., September 11-16, 2016.
  2. X. Duan, B. Phillips, T. McKrell, J. Buongiorno, “Synchronized High-Speed Video, Infrared Thermometry, and Particle Image Velocimetry Data for Validation of Interface-Tracking Simulations of Nucleate Boiling Phenomena,” Experimental Heat Transfer, 26:2-3, 169-197, 2013.
  3. B. Phillips, J. Buongiorno, and T. McKrell, “Nucleation Site Density, Bubble Departure Diameter, Wait Time and Local Temperature Distribution in Subcooled Flow Boiling of Water at Atmospheric Pressure,” NURETH-15, Pisa, Italy, May 12-17, 2013.
  4. B. Phillips, “Challenges of Student Research in Thermal-Hydraulics,” Invited Lecture, NURETH-15, Pisa, Italy, May 12-17, 2013.
  5. S. Witharana, B. Phillips, S. Strobel, H. Kim, et. al., “Bubble nucleation on nano- to micro-size cavities and posts: An experimental validation of classical theory,” Journal of Applied Physics, 112, 064904, 2013.
  6. B. Campbell, J. Nash, T. Schaefer, J. Witter, B. Phillips, “Reflector Material Selection for Space Nuclear Applications” STAIF February, 2006.
  7. J.W. Sterbentz, B. Phillips, R.L. Sant, G.S. Chang, and P.D. Bayless, “Reactor Physics Parametric and Depletion Studies in Support of TRISO Particle Fuel Specification for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant,” INEEL/EXT-04- 02331, September 2004.

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 24-107
Cambridge, MA 02139