Titans of Nuclear podcast features NPRE faculty, alumnus, as experts


Susan Mumm

Titans of Nuclear podcast features NPRE faculty, alumnus, as experts

Nuclear energy researchers and the industries that generate nuclear power are at a crossroads in many ways as they move forward with the responsibilities and potentials of developing technologies.

Can nuclear energy really stop climate change in its tracks? Do small modular reactors or molten salt reactors offer good alternatives to current pressurized water and boiling water reactors? What are the costs and benefits of nuclear waste reprocessing and how do nations manage it? What are the technical challenges of scaling up high-temperature nuclear power plant designs? What should be this country’s nuclear energy strategy?

These questions and more are examined in the Titans of Nuclear podcast, which features interviews with experts on nuclear energy, including NPRE’s Donald Biggar Willet Prof. Jim Stubbins, Associate Prof. Tomasz Kozlowski, and Assistant Prof. Katy Huff, as well as NPRE alumnus John Kotek, Vice President for Policy and Public Affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Highlights from Katy Huff interview:

  • What a nuclear fuel cycle is and how it is analyzed
  • How a surplus of enriched uranium impacts nuclear fuel prices
  • The connection between high enrichment nuclear fuel and inherent safety features
  • How negative temperature coefficients affect nuclear heat transfer
  • Computational tools for analyzing the nuclear fuel life cycle and transfer methods
  • Costs and benefits of nuclear waste reprocessing and how nations manage it
  • Long term safety considerations for nuclear waste disposal of different isotopes
  • Competitive advantages of nuclear energy and its impact on computational science

Highlights from Tomasz Kozlowski interview:

  • Why water is the best coolant in any reactor
  • Why molten salt reactors (MSRs) are a safeguard’s nightmare
  • How molten salt reactors differ from lightwater reactors
  • Why the Experimental Breeder Reactor II would be the best fuel reprocessing solution
  • How nuclear energy can stop climate change in its tracks
  • Why the mass production of nuclear reactors is the only way to solve China’s energy demands

Highlights from Jim Stubbins interview:

  • Technical challenges of scaling up high-temperature nuclear power plant designs
  • The relationship between nuclear power generation efficiency and reaction temperature
  • The effects of oxidation and carbonization on turbine blades in different nuclear reactors
  • How nuclear reactor designs plan for long-term material degradation in critical components
  • Modern methods of analyzing the effects of radiation on metal alloys
  • How the impacts of neutrons on metal lattice structures drive material design
  • Performance criteria for critical components of nuclear plant materials
  • How today’s nuclear industry is reinvesting in nuclear-related education and research

Highlights from John Kotek interview:

  • Kotek’s career at the U.S. Department of Energy, the national labs, as an American Nuclear Society congressional fellow, and in the private sector
  • Serving on the Blue Ribbon commission for nuclear waste management
  • Why deployment time is key to cost reduction
  • NEI's national nuclear energy strategy: Preserve, Sustain, Innovate, and Thrive
  • An explanation of "negative pricing" and the unintended consequences of tax credits
  • The long-term strategic advantages that come from being a global energy supplier
  • Pros and Cons of various mechanisms the government can use to support the industry
  • How small modular reactors alleviate some of the market problems nuclear faces today
  • Some of the other all-stars at NEI
  • A key tale for nuclear reactor innovators.

Titans of Nuclear’s host, Bret Kugelmass, earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. Kugelmass is a robotics entrepreneur, inventor of the internet-connected drone, and climate change thought leader. He has identified both a severe disconnect and steep learning curve between nuclear and tech adjacent communities as impediments to innovation, financing, and social acceptance. Seeking to bridge this gulf he is compiling an audio encyclopedia of the greatest minds in nuclear energy opening the field to environmental-minded technologists.


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