June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Nuclear and Radiological
12.99.1 - 12.99.10
A Project-Based Approach to Teaching the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Abstract
The nuclear fuel cycle – defined as the series of processes through which materials pass in the course of electricity generation – is accepted as a subject in which graduating nuclear engineering students should be well-versed.
While a technology-based, water reactor-based approach to teaching the fuel cycle has a great deal of validity, it can be argued that other approaches can offer students superior preparation to participate in today’s national (e.g. the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative and Global Nuclear Energy Partnership) and international debate regarding the future direction of the fuel cycle. The concepts generated by these and other research programs are evolving rapidly, as are the tools used to assess them. Hence, no single text can function as a comprehensive resource for a course that seeks to provide an up-to-date treatment of the fuel cycle.
A new course taught in Fall, 2006 at The University of Texas, Austin takes the systems analyst’s perspective as opposed to that of the traditional technologist. This perspective emphasizes understanding how each element of the fuel cycle contributes to the functionality of the system as a whole. The course is unique in that it draws readings, examples and case studies entirely from the contemporary literature. It also features a semester project – a fuel cycle system analysis – that requires on-campus and distance learning students to collaborate.
This is a watershed era in the enterprise of nuclear energy production. A great number of advanced reactor technologies and fuel cycles are being proposed and debated. When considering fuel cycles, policymakers require input that is not solely technical in nature, but rather folds technical factors, along with those that are economic and geopolitical in nature, into a balanced, comprehensive picture of how a fuel cycle would impact the international energy production milieu.
The intention of this paper is to present an approach to teaching the fuel cycle that prepares graduate students to engage in cross-cutting, systems-level analysis of this nature. While fuel cycle systems analysis courses are offered at some institutions, this author found that no up-to-date text – one that draws upon very recent work by the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency and others – is available. Therefore, a curriculum that draws upon recent works by these programs and agencies, using their publications in lieu of a textbook, was prepared. An extensive bibliography of these papers and reports is presented.
Objectives and Approach
Schneider, E. (2007, June), A Project Based Approach To Teaching The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3069
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