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A team from UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering recently took top honors for its research at the European Conference of the Prognostics and Health Management Society in Nantes, France.

The group’s paper, “Prognostics for Light Water Reactor Sustainability: Empirical Methods for Heat Exchanger Prognostic Lifetime Predictions,” tackles the need to check on equipment in existing nuclear reactors as those facilities’ licenses are renewed.

“This is quite an achievement for our group and will lead to additional successes as we finalize this three-year project,” said Department Head Wes Hines.

The underlying problem, according to the group, is that in many cases the equipment in the reactors dates back years, yet there are few ways to test how long those parts should last, how quickly they degrade, and what guidelines should be put in place regarding them.

For their particular study, UT’s team focused on heat exchangers, calculating various factors that go into their expected life cycle, as well as whether their own test would work as a predictive measure moving forward.

Hines presented the paper. Lead author was graduate student Zach Welz, with contributions from graduate teaching assistant Alan Nam, Research Assistant Professor Michael Sharp, and Professor Belle Upadhyaya.

The US Department of Energy’s Nuclear Engineering University Program, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and the International Joint Research Center for the Safety of Nuclear Energy providing funding for the team’s research.

The European conference is a way to bring together various industrial, academic, and government experts in areas ranging from energy to aerospace.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683,