It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Nuclear Reactor Engineering

page: 1

log in


posted on Feb, 12 2022 @ 08:04 AM
I got my BS (1971) and MS (1973) in chemical engineering. I've worked for DuPont, Union Carbide, Columbia Gas Transmission, EDS (General Motors), Longwood College, and just recently retired from Workforce WV as an IBM mainframe programmer (Fortran, PL/1, SAS). I also had job offers from Battelle Memorial Institute (DoD "think tank"), IBM (early-warning satellites), Morton-Thiokol (space shuttle), and Boeing (military airlift command).

I minored in nuclear engineering which was made difficult because that program was dropped because of low enrollment and so everything was done on an "independent study" basis. There were 4 textbooks in which the professor assigned every problem at the end of every chapter. It was the hardest course that I had ever taken in college.

During my studies, I came across a used 1961-era book (now long out-of-print) on "Nuclear Reactor Engineering" cowritten by Samuel Glasstone who was a consultant to the (old) U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the USAF. It was one of the best that I have ever read. Unlike my other textbooks, it emphasized the engineering rather than the theory.

Although Transport (kinetic) and Perturbation theories describe the physics more accurately, their models are very complex mathematically and the equation constants/parameters are difficult to compute from experiments. But Diffusion Theory's simpler models permit reasonable approximations to final reactor designs. Its coefficients are easily obtained from experiments and, most importantly, the models are scale-upable from the laboratory to a pilot plant to full-scale commercial units.

A nuclear "bond" is a million times more powerful than a chemical bond. Splitting the nucleus of an atom (fission) causes the product protons to weigh less than those of the target. This missing mass is converted to energy by Einstein's famous equation. One pound of fissile material can produce the same amount of energy as 1400 tons of coal. But there are many complex issues to be resolved in the process which results in a very large plant consisting of many separate units.

The basics of a fission reactor are simple. But the considerable radiation and heat generated make for complex choices of materials and shielding. (The book covers different types of Steel and Concrete and cooling substances at very high temperatures.) The radioactive byproducts produced act as neutron absorbers ("poisons") which break the chain reaction. Chemical engineering processes like multi-stage solvent extractors, distillation columns, fluidized-bed reactors, and ion-exchange columns are used to remove these. And there is no single instrument that can measure all sources of radiation in a reactor. Likewise there are different units of radiation dosages which health physicians use in their diagnosis.

I just completed a 6-month project of converting this textbook to electronic format. Individual chapters appeal not only to the aspiring nuclear engineer but also to mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, electronics engineers, economic analysts, and health professionals as well as machine-shop and HVAC technicians. It also could serve as an introduction to any of these subjects for a high-school student who is considering any of these subjects as a potential career (either post-college or vocational).

Chapters 1-to-4 cover basic nuclear fission. Chapter 5 discusses control of fission reactors and introduces the LaPlace Transform scheme and modeling process control. Chapter 6 concerns massive heat removal in different reactor geometries. Chapter 7 deals with radiation effects on reactor structural and moderator materials. Chapter 8 discusses different fission fuels and chemical reprocessing of spent fuel. Chapter 9 is on health effects by radiation. Chapter 10 deals with thermal, radiolytic, and biological shields. Chapter 11 discusses mechanical components for radioactive fuel-handling, reactor and containment structures, and thermal stresses. Chapters 12-to-14 gives examples of preliminary reactor design including a detailed economic spreadsheet. Note that designing a nuclear power plant requires individuals with different disciplines (i.e., accountants and civil engineers are needed as much as nuclear engineers.)

The 800-page book is accessible at
page. (I used to be a semi-pro roller-skater. Hence the 'stealthskater' name.)

posted on Feb, 12 2022 @ 08:48 AM
a reply to: stealthskater

Thank you for the effort it must have taken.

. . . military requirements for even larger weapons have been drafted and -- in the case of the Soviet Union -- actually built, tested, and deployed.

At one point in the mid-1950s, the U.S. military requested a 60 Megaton bomb! This military "requirement" was apparently driven by the fact that this was the highest yield device that could be delivered by existing aircraft. The Soviets eventually went on to develop a 100+ Megaton design (tested in a 50 Megaton configuration).

edit on 12 2 2022 by Kester because: (no reason given)


log in