SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Cal Abel
TIME: Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: Boggs, 3-47
TITLE: Integrating Thermal Energy Storage and Nuclear Reactors: A Technical and Policy Study
COMMITTEE: Dr. Bojan Petrovic, Chair (NRE)
Dr. Glenn Sjoden (NRE)
Dr. Anna Erickson (NRE)
Dr. Marilyn Brown (PUBP)
Dr. Valerie Thomas (ISYE)
Dr. Eric Loewen (GE-H)


Combining two previously unrelated technologies, solar Thermal Energy Storage (TES) and mid-temperature nuclear reactors creates a novel synergy. The combined system allows nuclear energy to expand beyond baseload electricity improving the fundamental economics. The design uses established technologies and materials that are commercially available. The only “new” component is the reactor. The study uses the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), the most commercially ready fourth generation design The TES replaces IFR's entire intermediate loop. This study explores the implications of this design change to reactor safety, mission profile, and economcis.

The main purpose of the study is to examine the kinetic response of the nuclear TES system using real world data and develop: a normal reactivity control strategy for the reactor, a methodology for estimating needed energy storage capacity, and evaluate system responses in various casualty situations. Routine transient response and control modeling is done using a state space methodology. The system is modeled under various casualty conditions using an established reactor simulation code, RELAP5-3D, to verify satisfaction of the General Design Criteria.

The study will show how to size and integrate the IFR-TES into an existing electrical utility, using actual data with a methodology to estimate environmental and economic parameters that impact storage sizing. The combined system will aim to resolve many challenging economic and policy problems, e.g. scalable and economic carbon free energy. This study examines the consequences of wide scale implementation of this technology identifying the key policy constraints that limit its impact and recommending potential solutions.