Each year, Constellation moves 10,000 – 20,000 nuclear fuel bundles. Each of these moves must be performed flawlessly with the bundle being pulled and placed in the proper location (X, Y, and orientation). This entire process happens under 20 – 60’ of water and is a manual operation that requires significant skill and experience. The reliability of this process has been historically managed through a series of independent checks by humans, which are subject to human error. The purpose of this project is to eliminate that inherent risk by developing a robotic tool that can indicate the location and orientation of any bundle in the spent fuel pool or vessel with 100% reliability. The student team will develop a prototype robotic unit capable of precisely locating, and visually indicating, a series of specific points in 2D with a laser (or similar).
Moving nuclear fuel is a precise operation but even the most talented technicians make human errors from time to time. When these errors occur, they are extremely costly in both a financial and reputational sense. Eliminating these mistakes altogether is one more way we can make nuclear power a safer clean energy solution for the planet.
Nuclear Design (1-2 students)
Specific Skills: Domain knowledge specific to nuclear engineering + mechanical design.
Likely Majors: NERS
Robotics – Movement (1-2 students)
Specific Skills: Controls, dynamics, manipulation of robotic systems.
Likely Majors: ROB, NAME, NERS, ME
Underwater Design (1-2 students)
Specific Skills: Mechanical design skills with specific knowledge and/or experience in an underwater environment.
Likely Majors: Any with practical experience, NAME
Computer Vision (3 students)
Specific Skills: Machine vision and computer vision. Real time signal acquisition and signal processing.
Likely Majors: CS, ROB, CE, EE
Ryan has a B.S. in Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Ryan has spent the last 3 years at Constellation primarily as a Nuclear Fuels Engineer and has recently transitioned roles to be a Technical Lead for the Reactor Support organization. Ryan has extensive experience in project management and is a strong advocate for innovation of any kind in the nuclear field.
James M. DuBay
Senior Director of Reactor Services
Jim has a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan and an MBA from CU Boulder. He has spent 22 years working in the Nuclear Power Industry, and has worked for 3 of the largest companies in the space (GE, Westinghouse, and Constellation), with a focus primarily on the physical aspects of maintaining the safe operation of Nuclear Reactors. Jim has a passion for innovating to increase reliability and reducing risk and has the responsibility for the safe execution of all maintenance on or in the 21 nuclear reactors that operate in the Constellation fleet.
Professor Yang Zhang (YZ)
Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences
YZ’s research can be summarized into two words: Matter and Machine. On the basic science side, his group synergistically combines and pushes the boundaries of accelerated molecular simulations, statistical and stochastic thermodynamic theories, and neutron scattering experiments, with the goal of significantly extending our understanding of a wide range of long timescale phenomena, rare events, and far-from-equilibrium properties of materials from the atomic and molecular level. Particular emphasis is given to the physics and chemistry of liquids and complex fluids, especially at interfaces, driven away from equilibrium, or under extreme conditions. On the applied research side, leveraging their expertise in materials and modeling, his group advances the development of swarm robots and collective intelligence, robots in extreme environments, soft robots and human-compatible machines, and understandable artificial intelligence, which can lead to immediate societal impact.
Course Substitutions: CE MDE, ChE Elective, CS Capstone/MDE, EE MDE, CoE Honors, MECHENG 590, ROB 590
- Due to Constellation facility access requirements, this project is open to US Citizens or Permanent Residents only.
IP/NDA: Students will sign IP/NDA document that is unique to Constellation.
Internship/Summer Opportunity: No summer activity will take place on the project.