Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

GT Courtesy Listing


Emerging Challenges for Materials in Nuclear Energy Systems


Dr. Steven Zinkle




Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Dr. S. I. Abdel-Khalik


Development and deployment of a diverse mixture of economic and environmentally sustainable energy sources is important for international energy security. Nuclear (fission) power currently provides 20 percent of the US electricity, and a variety of fission and fusion energy concepts are under consideration for meeting future energy needs. In order for these nuclear energy systems to be economically competitive and environmentally sustainable, several materials challenges need to be overcome. Major initiatives include the prospects of developing accident-tolerant fuel systems for current and next-generation fission reactors and development of viable materials options for next generation fission and fusion reactors. Key materials science aspects associated with operation in these extreme temperature, mechanical stress and radiation environments will be summarized. The importance of exposure temperature on radiation-induced microstructural changes will be discussed. Radiation-induced nanoscale complexes that evolve over multiple length and time scales (with the potential for dramatic accompanying property changes) are a recurring feature in many irradiated materials. Several strategies to design and manufacture new high-performance fuels and structural materials will be discussed, leveraging recent innovations in the broader field of materials research.


Steve Zinkle is a UTK/ORNL Governors Chair Professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering Departments at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), with a joint appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Prior to 2013, he served in a variety of management and technical R&D roles at ORNL including Chief Scientist of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, director of the Materials Science and Technology Division, and ORNL Corporate Fellow. Much of his research utilizes materials science to explore fundamental physical phenomena that are important for advanced nuclear energy applications, focusing on microstructure-property relationships. He received his PhD in Nuclear Engineering and an MS in Materials Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1985. He has written over 290 peer-reviewed publications, is a recipient of the 2006 U.S. Department of Energy E.O. Lawrence Award, and is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and six other professional societies. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.


Refreshments will be served.