Vanderbilt research on nuclear safety offers new pathways for clean energy, leads to industry awards

Two leading energy companies that used a Vanderbilt-pioneered process to develop safer nuclear reactors received a prestigious technology award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in June.

Dr. Steven Krahn

A team led by Steve Krahn, professor of the practice of nuclear environmental engineering, worked in collaboration with EPRI to develop a “safety-in-design” methodology that was adopted by Southern Company and TerraPower. The companies received the EPRI’s Technology Transfer Awards for using the technology.

“Our work provides a clear method for integrating safety and risk insights early into the nuclear reactor design process,” Krahn said. “As demonstrated by Southern Company and TerraPower, it’s a system that enhances the safety of nuclear power as an option for the clean-energy generation.”

Andrew Sowder, EPRI senior technical director in advanced nuclear technology, described the Technology Transfer Award as the “Oscar” of the industry’s R&D community, adding that he appreciated Krahn and his team’s work in the field for the past decade.

The Vanderbilt-pioneered process has mostly been performed on molten salt reactors like this one.

Krahn said the collaboration with EPRI has involved nearly 10 years of developing, refining and implementing methods to enhance the environmental, health and safety performance of nuclear facilities.

Vanderbilt and EPRI are continuing to collaborate and work with additional advanced reactor designers and the U.S. Department of Energy to develop more concepts to integrate safety into their design processes.

Contact: Lucas Johnson, 615-343-0137