Nuclear Packaging Program
Dear Academic and Nuclear Packaging Communities,
Nuclear and other radioactive materials are used for life-saving medical diagnostics and treatments, electricity generation without greenhouse gas emission, national defense, advanced measurements, food sterilization, and other purposes. For society to benefit from these important uses, packaging that protects the public and the environment during the storage, transport, and disposal of these hazardous materials must be developed and safely operated. Federal regulations require that these package work properly under normal as well as severe fire, crash, and other accident conditions. Professional opportunities in industry, national laboratories, and government agencies are available for engineers with nuclear packaging safety interest and expertise.
The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Mechanical Engineering Department’s Nuclear Packaging Program has performed packaging research since 1993. In 2016, it began offering a unique Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Packaging, to help students and professionals advance their careers, and industries train employees. This website describes opportunities for students, and the program’s Research and Education activities.
Please contact us if you would like additional information, or to become involved in Nuclear Packaging Program activities.
Research and Government Service
Since 1993, the US Department of Energy (DOE), the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the State of Nevada, and industry have funded fundamental and applied research to better understand the performance and improve the safety of nuclear packaging. This research involves thermal/fluid science experiments that replicate the conditions of packaging under normal operating conditions, as well as severe hypothetical and historic fire accidents. Program students, faculty and staff have used this data to create and validate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models. They then use those models to predict package performance under a wide variety of normal and potential accident conditions. Government agencies have funded this work to better understand the level of safety that used-nuclear-fuel packages, which are licensed by the federal government, provide during severe accidents.
In 2016, the Mechanical Engineering Department began offering a unique Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Packaging with support from the DOE Packaging Certification Program. The purpose of the graduate certificate is to provide a curriculum in packaging for nuclear and other radioactive materials that complements research-based graduate programs in mechanical, nuclear, materials and other related engineering fields, but is more applied-knowledge-based. The three required courses, and most of the electives, are taught by experienced technical staff at Argonne, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, Sandia, and Savannah River National Laboratories over one and two-week long periods. These classes have been taken by technical staff from nuclear industries, national labs, government agencies, as well as university students, from within and outside the United States. In 2020, the program initiated a new Graduate Certificate in Transportation Security and Safeguards.
The Mechanical Engineering Department, and the Materials Science and Engineering Department offer several undergraduate and graduate classes that help provide a foundation for nuclear packaging.
Related Thermal/Fluid Science Research
Program faculty, students and staff have performed a wide range of related thermal/fluid science research, focusing on heat transfer augmentation, space system thermal management, and other important applications. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, DOE, NASA and other agencies and industry. We will add links to this page to describe these research programs.
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