Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

NRE 8011/8012 and MP 6011/6012 Seminar

Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Programs


Sodium Fast Reactors and the Versatile Test Reactor


Dr. Thomas Fanning


Manager, Safety and Engineering Analysis Group at Argonne National Laboratory


Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Bojan Petrovic


In September 2018, Congress approved an energy and water spending bill that included an increase in funding for the conceptual design of a Versatile Test Reactor. The primary mission of the VTR is to provide a fast spectrum neutron source to support fuels and materials testing for all advanced (non-light-water) reactors. Since the shutdown of the sodium fast reactor Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 2 (EBR-II) in 1994, the U.S. has had no fast spectrum irradiation capabilities. The reactor type, core configuration, fuel specification, and physical configuration of the VTR will be based on the mature technology of sodium fast reactors in order to minimize program risk. Dr. Fanning will present a brief overview of the history of fast reactors, why sodium is ideally suited as a coolant for fast spectrum reactors, and how coolant choice and core configuration can lead to unprecedented safety margins. These features will be incorporated into the VTR conceptual design. Pre-conceptual safety analysis will be presented to illustrate the inherent safety margins possible with SFRs.


Dr. Fanning received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin and joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1996. He is currently the manager of the Safety and Engineering Analysis Group, which oversees methods development and applications for advanced reactor safety analyses. He is also the technical lead for core design and safety analysis for the Versatile Test Reactor and is the code manager for the SAS4A/SASSYS-1 safety analysis system. Dr. Fanning has extensive expertise in fast reactor design, safety, and modeling and simulations. He was a member of the American Nuclear Society Special Committee on SMR Generic Licensing Issues and was nominated for the National Academy of Engineerings 2010 Frontiers of Engineering. Dr. Fanning served as the U.S. representative for the Generation IV International Forum Sodium Fast Reactor Safety and Operations Project Management Board from 2014 through 2018 and currently serves as the U.S. representative on the Generation IV Expert Group.


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