Notre Dame-Sandia team aims to improve reactor construction methods

A project from two professors at the University of Notre Dame, in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, has received a grant from the Department of Energy, the university said on Friday.

Yahya Kurama, associate chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, and Ashley Thrall, the Myron and Rosemary Noble Assistant Professor of structural engineering, are working to develop concrete technology to facilitate quicker and safer construction of nuclear reactors. They are joined by Scott Sanborn of the Structural and Thermal Analysis Department at Sandia National Labs.

The project will consist of studying what can be done with combinations of steel rebar and high-strength concrete and methodologies to efficiently build high-quality structures without complex rebar systems.

"This is an exciting new area of research for the university and one that we expect will grow over the coming years," Peter Burns, director of Notre Dame Energy and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, said. "We are delighted to support these efforts as the team works toward improving the structural design and safety of energy production in an efficient and economical way."

The university said approximately 20 percent of all U.S. electricity is generated in nuclear power plants. The team's main challenge if to find quality strengthening techniques that can improve construction speed and enhance overall safety.

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