Gas-cooled Small Modular Reactors with Shripad Revankar

Author: Destiny White, Junior in Nuclear Engineering (Host)
PodbeanID: bw5jk-e90d95
Episode: 16
PodbeanTitle: Gas-cooled Small Modular Reactors with Shripad Revankar
In this episode highlighting Nuclear Engineering, we meet Professor Shripad Revankar, director of the Multiphase and Fuel Cell Research Laboratory in the School of Nuclear Engineering. We'll discuss his work with gas-cooled small modular reactors, part of generation IV of nuclear reactors, which are the safest and most efficient designs yet.

Gas-cooled small modular reactors operate at high temperatures up to 1,000 degrees celsius, are small and transportable, and can power areas that lack gridlines or support existing grids. These reactors are also practically autonomous, with minimal refueling and maintenance needs. Professor Revankar speaks to how nuclear energy complements the emergence of renewable energy, as it produces 55 percent of America’s carbon-free energy. Because many renewables are intermittent and dependent on environmental conditions, it is important to have a base energy that supplies continuous power that simultaneously supports environmental health.

In order to be licensed, reactor designs must contain detailed accident mitigation technologies and procedures.  Because small modular reactors have not been commercially built/operated yet, the regulatory process is still under way. To this end, Revankar is working to address depolarisation nuclear accidents, in which reactors have leaks from their primary systems. When this occurs, there is a chance the oxygen will come back and oxidize the reactor core, which can lead to overheating and meltdown. Revankar is developing an experimental setup, in collaboration with Texas A&M University and the Imperial College of London, through which they can test these accidents and determine mitigation strategies. This research will help ensure the safety of the gas-cooled reactors and assist developed and developing countries in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

This summer, Professor Revankar worked with both undergraduate and graduate students to perform scaling analysis on the experimental system setup, in addition to work with CAD modeling and other design projects. His research is approachable for college students of all ages, relevant, and pertinent to the success of generation IV reactors. Revankar’s passion for the field is tangible in each conversation he has, and he is driven each day by the passion exuded by his students, nuclear’s boundless applications, and the constant evolution and excitement of the field.

This is one of four episodes featuring Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering. Listen to more about Nuclear Engineering and others engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website

Special thanks to Destiny White, our guest host for this podcast.  Destiny is a junior in nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Throughout her three years, she has participated in activities ranging from rowing to nuclear security research. She currently serves as the founder and president of Minorities in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences (MINES), the treasurer of Purdue’s American Nuclear Society chapter, and a teaching assistant for the honors engineering program. Her current career aspiration is to work with uranium chemistry and safeguards inspection.