Nuclear Engineering


There are many and varied topics in the domain of nuclear and radiation engineering. A student will be exposed to the study of elements and isotopes, modern physics, special theory of relativity, wave-particle duality, preliminary quantum mechanics, atomic structure and atomic models, nuclear models and energetics, Q-values calculations, radioactivity, and the decay constant and decay dynamics. 

Emphasis will be on binary nuclear reactions, the conservation laws, fission and fusion reactions, ionizing radiation interactions, cross sections and flux density, photon interactions, neutron and charged particle interactions, radiation detection, and dosimetric quantities. Additional topics include natural exposures and health effects, cancer, and radon risks.

More emphasis is on radiation detection and measurements. Topics include gas filled detectors; ionization chambers, proportional counters, GM-tubes, scintillation detectors, photomultiplier tubes, and radiation spectroscopy using scintillators. Slow and fast neutron detection are also addressed.   

Introduction to the fundamentals of nuclear fission reactors, reactor types, cores and reflectors, PWRs, and BWRs, and nuclear fuel cycle will be studied.  Examination of the basic concepts of neutron physics for nuclear fission reactor design will be covered. Topics include neutron interaction with matter, neutron cross-sections, nuclear fission mechanism, neutron chain-reacting systems basic concepts like neutron life cycle, multiplication factor, four and six factor formulas,  and the diffusion theory for neutrons in nuclear reactors, interaction rates, neutron flux and current density, continuity equation and Fick’s law, the one-speed diffusion equation, Neutron moderation and slowing down calculations, energy dependent diffusion theory, spectrum calculations in the epi-thermal "slowing down" region and thermal region, Fermi age theory, resonance escape probability, and thermal neutron diffusion in non-multiplying media will likely be addressed. Multiplying media are also covered where criticality calculations are involved. Application of Fermi age theory is used for one region multiplying problems, but in the multi-group method to solve multi-region problems, Fermi age theory fails to work. 

Thermal design of nuclear reactors is also covered. Topics include power generation in nuclear reactor core, coupling between thermal and neutron behavior of a reactor, and critical heat flux and hot channel factors. Heat removal using forced convection, radial and axial temperature distribution on reactor core fuel elements, boiling heat transfer, flow regimes and flow boiling crisis, and coolant pressure drops and determination of reactor core size.

Time dependent reactor behavior is addressed. Topics include the point kinetic equations, the prompt jump/drop, prompt critical state, control rods and chemical shim, temperature effects on reactivity, and fission product poisoning. 

Of great importance are considerations of radiation shielding. Principles of gamma rays shielding and buildup factors, the point kernel method using geometric and material attenuating factors for different source geometries, multi-layered shields, principles of reactor shielding, removal cross-section, removal attenuation calculations, removal diffusion method, and coolant activation are all critical factors.

Engineering principles of radiation applications in industry and medicine include radio gauging using alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, principles of radiotracers, gauge design optimization for achieving better accuracy, and fundamentals of industrial radiography.

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