The University of South Carolina Nuclear Engineering Program has a number of laboratories performing research related nuclear fuels and structural materials, thermal hydraulics, and advanced modeling and simulation. Additional laboratories are planned as part of the recently awarded Center of Economic Excellence in Nuclear Science and Engineering.
The Nuclear Materials Laboratory is equipped and licensed for working with uranium ad thorium based fuels with radiological hoods and inert atmosphere gloveboxes also used for working with pyrophoric materials. Metallographic and sample preparation tools are used for preparing materials for analysis in USC microscopy ad microanalysis instruments or for analysis at partner institutions.High temperature, controlled atmosphere furnaces are used for advanced fuel fabrication and testing. Induction heated furnaces are used to 3000 K and a longer duration tube furnace is used to temperatures up to 1900 K. A custom-built, fluidized-bed, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) system is used for coating of fuel kernels including advanced TRISO fuels with ZrC. Other instruments used for nuclear fuels characterization include particle size, porosimetry, density, and surface area analysis. Thermogravimetric and differential scanning calorimetry instruments are also employed in these studies at temperatures up to 2250 K.
High performance computing facilities (HPCG)
are used to analyze and model nuclear reactors, advanced fuel cycles, and advanced nuclear fuels and materials. Modeling and simulation codes and tools are employed for neutronic, thermal hydraulic, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), thermochemical, safety and risk, shielding, and finite element analyses. Sample code packages include MCNP5, SCALE6.1, SCALE6.0, ERANOS2.1, FACT-SAGE6.1, VISION, Relap/SCDAPSIM(MOD4.0), FRAPCON/FRAPTRAN, TRACE, MELCOR, SNAP, COBRA, ABAQUS, Comsol Multiphysics, etc. Thermal hydraulic test loops and laboratories are dedicated to studies of enhanced heat transfer, fluid flow, pressure drop and other phenomena associated with nuclear fuel rods and assemblies. A stereo vision (3D) micro PIV (Particle Image Velocimetry) technique and micro-PLIF (Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence) are used to examine the impact of nanofluids on the development and performance of thermal and hydrodynamic boundary layers and to allow for a visual investigation of the flow field and the impact of shear-thinning.