Student Wins Award For Nuclear Reactor Safety Research

A third-year student in the College of Engineering, identified as Caleb King, is studying accident tolerant fuels as part of research to help contain or stop a full nuclear reactor meltdown.

“Nuclear power is very important in the green energy movement as it does not produce any greenhouse gases,” said Caleb King, a third-year student in the College of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Making these reactors safer plays a large role in how mainstream these reactors will ultimately become.”

King is researching accident tolerant fuels — or ATFs — with Jessika Rojas, Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

“[The] simple goal is to make nuclear reactors safer in the event of an accident in order to contain or stop a full reactor meltdown,” King said.

“We are researching new materials that will be safer to ensure that they will work and can be used in nuclear reactors.”

King’s research in nuclear energy has earned him the 2022 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award — which included $1,000 — from the Office of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award is an annual scholarship awarded to students conducting research in the nuclear field with published work in the nuclear industry,” King said. “To have won this means that I have done good work in the nuclear field and have a published paper ranked higher than many others around the country.”

In addition to awarding students for innovative nuclear-fuel-cycle-relevant research, the program supports communications among students and U.S. Department of Energy representatives.


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