In this episode highlighting Nuclear Engineering, we meet Dr. Ran Kong, a post-doctoral research associate working with the head of the School of Nuclear Engineering, Dr. Seungjin Kim. He'll discuss his work with a Versatile Test Reactor and how it will contribute to the future of nuclear energy.
Dr. Kong’s original intention was to study coal power plants during his undergraduate studies in China, yet after taking an “intro to nuclear energy” course, he learned of the importance of carbon-free emissions to the planet’s future. The nuclear industry’s reliability, emphasis on safety, and sustainability drew Dr. Kong to study nuclear engineering as a way to steer the world away from the toxicity of carbon emitters.
Dr. Kong works in the Thermal-Hydraulics and Reactor Safety Laboratory (TRSL) at Purdue with the goal of design improvements for high-performing reactor systems. In the TRSL, Kong has the capability to study fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and safety in nuclear systems. His current focus is his work with the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), a Department of Energy-funded program intended to accelerate and improve generation IV reactor designs. Dr. Kong is collaborating with Argonne National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory to design the VTR’s sodium-cooled cartridge loop to assist the development of sodium fast reactors.
The VTR program contributes directly to the United States’ ability to maintain its leadership in advanced reactor technologies, which was threatened by the shutdown of the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) in the 1990s. The VTR re-establishes the testing capability, allowing for the continuous development of new materials and nuclear fuels for the next generation of reactors. The global market for nuclear power technology is estimated at $1 trillion, nuclear power generation is projected to grow 73% by 2040, and most of the existing reactors are on track to retire within the next few decades. Thus, the contributions of the VTR are crucial if the United States, and even the world, is to keep up with global energy demand in the future.
Read Dr. Kong's Medium article about the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR)
This is one of four episodes featuring Purdue University's Nuclear Engineering. Listen to more about Nuclear Engineering and other engineering topics at the Purdue Engineering podcast website.
Special thanks to Destiny White, our guest host for this podcast. Destiny is a junior in nuclear engineering at Purdue University. Throughout her three years, she has participated in activities ranging from rowing to nuclear security research. She currently serves as the founder and president of Minorities in Nuclear Engineering and Sciences (MINES), the treasurer of Purdue’s American Nuclear Society chapter, and a teaching assistant for the honors engineering program. Her current career aspiration is to work with uranium chemistry and safeguards inspection.
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