Nuclear engineering students, faculty attend 2016 national ANS conference

Students and faculty from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University recently attended the 2016 American Nuclear Society (ANS) annual meeting in New Orleans. The meeting focused on topics supporting nuclear power’s continued status as the leading supply of clean, carbon-free energy.

Students attended professional development workshops, plenary and technical sessions and special lectures that covered a variety of nuclear engineering related topics. Nuclear engineering students Lane Carasik, Landon Brockemeyer, Matt Barret and ANS student program co-chair James Bunsen represented Texas A&M at the meeting.

The conference focused on the current contribution of nuclear energy to the total national energy mix and sought to open discussion about the opportunities and challenges ahead in maintaining nuclear energy’s leadership role as the largest single contributing energy source of non-greenhouse gas emitting power. Additional topics at the meeting included advances in next generation reactor designs, the status of prototype generation four nuclear reactors and how to effectively dispose of and possibly recycle spent nuclear fuel through the practice of reprocessing, and taking the used nuclear fuel and converting it back into a usable fuel source 

“One of the things that personally interested me the most was the issue of nuclear waste and how we want to deal with that policy-wise,” Bunsen said. “For example, we had a site known as Yucca mountain where all the nuclear waste was going to be stored, but loss of federal funding for the site damaged those efforts. Now they store it on site where it’s not ideal because these sites are not designed to store waste.”

According to Bunsen, the session discussed how the waste could be reprocessed by removing from the waste the majority of fission products that would prohibit the reactor from generating power effectively. Apart from the guided sessions, students and industry professionals alike benefit from other social aspects of the conference.

“These meetings give people a venue to showcase their research and it’s a good way to collaborate between universities and labs,” Bunsen said. “There are more professionals at the summer and winter meetings and it ends up being a good way to kind of share ideas and learn new things. One of the primary reasons I go to these conferences is for the networking, especially on the student to student level.”