Grad student wins first place in DOE fuel cycle research competition

Lyndsey Morgan Fyffe, a doctoral student in environmental engineering, has been awarded a first place prize in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards competition.


Fyffe’s award is in the category of energy policy, and her award-winning research paper, “Developing Operational Safety Performance Measures for Nuclear Chemical Facilities,” was presented at the American Nuclear Society’s International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Meeting in April 2013.

This year’s meeting concentrated on the ‘back end’ of the nuclear fuel cycle, including waste generation, transportation, storage, treatment, disposal, facility remediation, regulation and stakeholder involvement.

Fyffe’s research focus is safety and performance measures for nuclear chemical processing facilities. Her faculty co-advisers are James H. Clarke, professor of the practice of civil and environmental engineering, and director of graduate studies in environmental engineering, and Steven Krahn, professor of the practice of nuclear environmental engineering. Fyffe received a B.E. in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University in 2011.

“At present, the nuclear and chemical industries each have their own approach to safety management. DOE uses a systematic, detailed occurrence categorization process–informed by the practices of the commercial nuclear power industry. The chemical industry combines regulation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration with detailed investigations performed by the Chemical Safety Board. In a nuclear chemical processing facility, these two industries intersect and integrated safety metrics would be desirable,” Fyffe said.

Fyffe’s research includes reviewing the large database available in more than 60 published chemical industry accident reports completed by the CSB over the past 15 years to develop potential performance measures that will improve operating efficiency and safety for such facilities.

The Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards program supports academia and the goal of the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy to develop sustainable nuclear fuel cycle options by encouraging innovative research in fuel cycle related disciplines.

The program awarded 19 prizes in 2013 for student publications and presentations relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle. In addition to cash awards, winning students will have a variety of other opportunities, including presenting their research during the American Nuclear Society Winter meeting, participating in an Innovators’ Forum, and participating in the DOE Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies Annual Meeting.