Three UT Faculty Members Awarded $2.2 Million for Nuclear Projects

A trio of UT faculty members was recently awarded more than $2 million by the US Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Programs for their respective research projects.

Steve Zinkle, Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials, Richard Wood, research professor of nuclear engineering, and Craig Barnes, professor of chemistry, were highlighted for their efforts.

For Zinkle, the work in question was his study “Radiation Effects on High Thermal Conductivity Fuels.”

Through the study, Zinkle will use ions and neutrons to explore the stability and thermal conductivity of certain fuels. NEUP awarded him $400,000 for those efforts.

For Wood, whose $1,000,000 award was the most of the group, the work will focus on his study “Development and Demonstration of a Model Based Assessment Process for Qualification of Embedded Digital Devices in Nuclear Power Applications.”

That project’s aim is to use new methods to eliminate certain vulnerabilities in instruments used in in nuclear power, such as sensors or controllers.

For Barnes, whose work was awarded $800,000, research centers on the material that covers nuclear fuel rods themselves.

Currently, the zirconium-based material that covers the fuel rods represents a large portion of nuclear waste, so any improvements in that area could not only help with production of nuclear power, but reduce the waste left at the end as well.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,