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Department of Nuclear Engineering
Nuclear engineering is an academic discipline that deals with the technologies exploiting nuclear energy, radiation and subatomic particles to benefit people. The Department of Nuclear Engineering (DNE) of SNU is committed to lead globally the education and research needed for the sustainable use of nuclear energy and for diversifying the industrial and medical applications of radiations and various subatomic particles.
“Benefit people with nuclear energy, radiation and plasma”
Nuclear energy can be produced either by nuclear fission or fusion reactions and the origin of the energy is the mass defect involved in each nuclear reaction that is converted to enormous energy according to the mass-energy equivalence law of Einstein. For example, fissioning 1 kg of uranium can generate the energy roughly equivalent to the electricity produced for a day from a 1000 MW power plant. Thus nuclear energy provides very high density and compact energy sources. The most important concern in nuclear engineering is how to utilize nuclear energy in a safe, economical, and environment-friendly manner. There are three main fields at the DNE of SNU: nuclear energy systems engineering, fusion and plasma engineering, and radiation and subatomic particle engineering.
Nuclear energy systems engineering deals with the technologies required to design and use the nuclear fission energy systems for electricity or heat generation. Particularly, the nuclear, thermo-fluid, mechanical, and material characteristics of nuclear power plants are studied. The theories, analysis methods and experiments needed for understanding and predicting the various physical and chemical behaviors occurring in the nuclear reactors and in the cooling and power generation system are investigated in this field. Other applications of nuclear fission energy such as hydrogen production and ship propulsion are also studied.
Nuclear fusion reaction is to merge two light nuclei overcoming the repulsive force between two positively charged particles through electromagnetic acceleration in a plasma state. Plasma has been studied actively for realizing self-sustaining nuclear fusion in an engineering device, but it is also being used extensively in numerous industrial applications such as plasma displays and semiconductor circuit printing. In the field of fusion and plasma engineering, the technologies needed for engineering realization of nuclear fusion and diverse applications of plasmas are studied.
Nuclear radiation has made significant contributions to promote the health and security of people through the medical and industrial applications such as medical diagnoses and treatments, and security checking at public facilities. On the contrary, radiations can cause serious damages to the humans and environment if those are not properly shielded. In the field of radiation and subatomic particle engineering, the technologies not only for industrial and medical applications of radiation, but also for environment protection are studied. On the other hand, subatomic particles such as neutrons, protons, and positrons can be used to identify and improve the microscopic structures of materials. Those are mostly produced by particle accelerators. Accelerator technologies and utilization of subatomic particles are studied in this field as well.
At the DNE of SNU, we are performing world-class cutting-edge researches for sustainable use of nuclear energy with the confidence that nuclear energy including nuclear fusion is the only practical means of providing clean and affluent energy to the civilized society. In order to secure the sustainability of nuclear energy, the safety of nuclear power plants must be assured; the spent nuclear fuels have to be properly processed and disposed; and eventually the nuclear fusion power plant should be realized. Researches are conducted for the utilization of plasmas, radiations, and subatomic particles for betterment of human life as well.
Nuclear Energy System Engineering
The nuclear power plants, which are the most typical ones in the nuclear energy system, can supply abundant, economical, and environmentally-friendly electricity which is essential to the civilized and industrialized society. The objects of research in this field include conventional nuclear power reactors, reactor cooling systems, instrumentation and control systems, research reactors, fast breeder reactors, hydrogen production plants, nuclear transformation plants, and other future nuclear energy systems. The research areas in the field are 1) nuclear reactor physics and computerized simulation, 2) thermal-hydraulics and safety analysis, 3) nuclear materials studies and development, 4) nuclear partitioning transmutation and 5) comprehensive and integrated system design. The ultimate goal of research in this field is to provide technologies needed for safe, economical, and clean supply of nuclear electricity and heat.
For the enhancement of the safety of the operating nuclear power plants and advanced power reactors to be built, extensive thermal-hydraulic and material experiments, various high-fidelity computer code developments, and design innovation activities are being performed at various research groups in this filed. Integrated high-fidelity modeling and simulation employing first principle models to faithfully describe various neutronic, thermal-hydraulic, mechanical and chemical phenomena occurring in a nuclear reactor in a coupled manner is one of the activities driven by most faculties in this field to assure reactor safety. On the other hand, lead-bismuth eutectic cooled fast spectrum reactors are jointly studied since they have the potential to be used as nuclear transmutation reactors that would help solve the spent fuel problem by destroying the long lived transuranic nuclides and fission products. The thermal-hydraulics researches at the DNE of SNU support the development of advanced nuclear reactors with enhanced safety and the understanding on the fundamental single-phase and the two-phase flows equipped with the state-of-the-art measurements and Instrumentations. Computational analyses on the thermal-hydraulic phenomena in the nuclear reactors using current edge technology are also the major research activities in this field. Limits on the materials behavior are among the greatest technical obstacles to improving the safety and the economic performance of the nuclear energy systems. The nuclear material research group aims to verify the reliability of nuclear materials in the current nuclear systems and to improve their performance and lifetime with revealing the fundamental mechanisms that characterize the material properties in the nuclear fission and fusion reactors.
Fusion and Plasma Engineering
Fusion research is primarily targeted to the realization of fusion power reactors while plasma engineering deals with the technologies for industrial and medical applications of plasmas. Fusion research includes fusion plasma theory development and computerized simulations, Tokamak fusion experiments, and fusion engineering design. Plasma engineering covers diverse applications including material surface processing for better characteristics, high heat flux burning systems for environmental applications, ion implantation devices for semiconductor production.
For the realization of sustained fusion energy production in an engineering scale, concentrated efforts are made focusing on plasma simulation and control, instability suppression technologies and fusion blanket engineering. A versatile plasma experimental device which is a spherical torus (VEST) is being constructed for investigating various plasma heating, diagnosis, and control schemes. On the other hand, researches on plasma applications are being extended from the conventional industrial applications such as plasma etching for semiconductor circuit printing and plasma torches as high heat flux devices to medical applications such as spine disk curing.
Radiation and Subatomic Particle Engineering
This is a pragmatic field dealing with securing radiation energy (obtained from radioactive isotopes and radiation generators) and developing methods and acceptable ranges for its use. The core research areas are the rapidly developing technology of radiation generation and measurement and the development of technology for analyzing the effects of radiation and for medical purposes. Technology for evaluating radioactive wastes is also considered. Radiotechnology can also be applied to areas such as the development of materials using radiation, improving crops, and equipment for radiation treatment.
Elaborated and versatile radiation detections and low exposure radiation applications are currently the major activities in this field. However, we have had a long lasting tradition in accelerator technologies such that numerous graduates of ours are leading the construction and operation of the most important large scale domestic accelerators such as the recently built proton accelerator. We are to continue the effort to excel in the area of subatomic particle engineering.