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Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science project summaries


Kirk Atkinson Hossam Gaber Glenn Harvel Jennifer McKellar Eleodor Nichita Markus H.A. Piro Akira Tokuhiro



Supervisor name: Kirk Atkinson, PhD

Project title: Improved computational predictions of dispersion, deposition and resuspension of radionuclides with changing meteorological conditions

Summary of research project:   The dispersion, deposition and resuspension of radionuclides resulting from a radiological release or nuclear accident will be significantly influenced by weather conditions and local geography. The student will develop a computational tool to capture and convert weather and geographic information data from online sources into a suitable format that can be loosely-coupled to a MOOSE-based computational mesh where it can drive the behavior of transport models developed within a predictive, multiscale-multiphysics health physics and environmental impact code under development at Ontario Tech.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will be fully responsible for development of the computational tool; identifying the appropriate data sources, writing the code to interpret and reformat this data, and ensuring it can be imported into the computational mesh. The student is expected to undertake development, and document their work, within the GIT version control system.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

As a minimum, the student should be competent in computer programming (C++) and second year math as demonstrated by B+ or better scores in ENGR 1200 - Introduction to Programming (or equivalent) and MATH 2860 - Differential Equations for Engineers (or equivalent) or MATH 2070 - Numerical Methods (or equivalent). Whilst some training will be provided (e.g. on software development and use of the MOOSE framework), existing programming skills are essential.


Supervisor name: Hossam Gaber, PhD

Project title: Plasma Systems for Energy and Nuclear Applications

Summary of research project:  This project is aiming at the design and testing of advanced plasma generation systems and their applications on clean energy and industrial applications. The project involves research of plasma generation circuits, integration challenges and design of power supply systems, and design and testing of plasma control systems.

Student responsibilities/tasks: 

  • Design plasma circuits, plasma generation, plasma diagnostic and measurement.
  • Control system design.
  • Embedded programming.
  • Engineering design.
  • Experiment data analysis.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

Must have:

  • Successfully passed courses of electric circuits, control systems, and scientific instrumentation.
  • Adequate knowledge of plasma systems, modeling and simulation.


Supervisor name: Glenn Harvel, PhD

Project title: Development of a Gel Spray System for Decommissioning Applications

Summary of research project:  One important aspect of decommissioning a nuclear power plant is the cleaning of the plant by removing radioactive materials. Some radioactive materials are loosely attached to the surface of components. In this work, we will study various techniques for cleaning surfaces of components to remove potential radioactive contamination. The project will include some work in testing different mechanical techniques for generating sprays. The project will also include some chemistry work to study different formulas of liquid substances for spraying the material.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Student will perform the following types of tasks:

  • Perform literature review supporting the work.
  • Design and construct experimental apparatus for sprays.
  • Test different spray configurations for different geometries.
  • Write final report before end of the summer documenting all work.

While performing the above, the student must obey all safety instructions in the laboratory. Risks include standard laboratory risks, chemical reactions, and radiation. Students will also be expected to work as a team with the graduate students in the laboratory.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

Completion of third year nuclear engineering or health physics and radiation science programs will be given a priority due to the need for a strong ethical conduct with respect to the use of radiation. Lower year students will be considered if their cumulative GPA (CGPA) is very high.


Supervisor name: Jennifer McKellar, PhD

Project title: Investigating future project financial and environmental performance

Summary of research project:  A previous research study (McKellar et al. 2013) developed a combined  life cycle assessment  (LCA)/real options method to help explore how projects' financial and environmental performance could vary over time, considering how certain commodity prices may change, and that decisions may be made at different times in the future. The associated model can be applied to various research questions, but it needs to be updated, and could be expanded.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

The student will be responsible for updating the combined LCA/real options model in Excel and Visual Basic. This will require:

  • Examining the existing code to understand how it works.
  • Collecting historical and forecast commodity prices.
  • Recalculating modelling parameters.
  • Updating the code (likely).

If time permits, the model could be expanded to include additional commodities, and/or applied to see how a project may perform into the future (e.g., alternative rail transport, small modular reactor).

A written report that could be made public will be required, so the model updates can be referenced and used in future research.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills): 

  • An interest in economic and environmental performance of projects.
  • Strong programming skills (prior knowledge of Visual Basic preferred, but not required).
  • Highly competent in Microsoft Excel.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Completion of Engineering Economics, or equivalent. 


Supervisor name: Eleodor Nichita, PhD

Project title: Small Modular Reactor for Arctic Communities

Summary of research project:  Arctic communities rely on diesel generators for their electricity production. When accounting for transportation costs, one kWh of electricity can cost up to $1.20. Moreover roads are not open year round, which can create shortages. Nuclear power is thus promising for arctic communities. Because such communities tend to be small and isolated, reactors need to be correspondingly small and need to be transportable to the site.

Objective: Design a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) for the Canadian arctic.

Work: The project will involve design of the nuclear reactor from a reactor physics and thermal-hydraulic perspective.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

Student work will include determining the reactor size and weight for transportation purposes; selecting the fuel type, selecting the coolant type, selecting the moderator type; determining the thermal power, electrical power and possible use of residual heat; optimizing the refueling-cycle length; determining the kinetics parameters and safety characteristics of the new design; estimation of manufacture and site-assembly cost; estimation of worker and population dose during assembly and operation.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • Completion of three years of undergraduate physics or engineering (mechanical/electrical/power) education.
  • Computer programming experience (Matlab or Python preferred).
  • Knowledge of reactor physics (NUCL 2500, NUCL 3820).


Supervisor name: Markus H.A. Piro, PhD

Project title: Experimental measurements of molten salt reactor materials

Summary of research project:  One emerging reactor technology for large scale power reactors and small modular reactors is based on the molten salt reactor concept. This design is quite different than both conventional and other advanced reactors as both the fuel and coolant are in a molten state, which creates a number of challenges. This project aims to perform a number of material property measurements in support of this design.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

  • Prepare material samples.
  • Execute material property measurements.
  • Follow Standard Operating Procedures in the context of safety and quality assurance.
  • Support various tasks in the laboratory operation (e.g., procurement of materials, compliance, etc.).

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

  • Minimum grade of B+.
  • Third or fourth year student in engineering or chemistry.
  • Preferable to have some materials/chemistry experimental experience.


Supervisor name: Akira Tokuhiro, PhD

Project title: Advancing the development of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) analyses and experiments at Ontario Tech University

Summary of research project:  Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced the SMR Roadmap in November 2018. Subsequently, Canada hosted in May 2019, the G7 and Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver. Various SMR concepts are under regulatory, phased review. The NuScale Power’s SMR is now in the final phase of (US) regulatory review. Canada’s nuclear industry is considering SMRs and Ontario Tech is initiating R&D and training on SMRs.

The research will advance the following: 

  • Complete construction, shakedown testing of the 2-storey thermalhydraulic (TH) loop (TSTL);
  • plan tests; or
  • Progress modeling (CFD, scaling. etc.) and analysis of TSTL. The TSTL loop is a scaled mockup of generic SMR TH.

Student responsibilities/tasks:

This project is suited for Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering students. An interview will be held to discuss the successful student’s skillset. Based on the interview, an aspect of the research project will initially be assigned. The successful applicant should:

  • Read reports, papers, and questions about SMR.
  • Start/maintain a list of references.
  • Start/maintain a notes to record weekly progress.
  • Update CAD drawings from current version.
  • If assigned, one or more of the following; make and run (of TFSL):
  • Computer aided fault tree analysis (CAFTA) model.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model.
  • Virtual reality (VR) application software.
  • Update project documentation and archiving.
  • Prepare to transfer knowledge.

Student qualifications required (e.g. courses completed, minimum grades, skills):

An interview will be held to discuss and confirm the student’s skillset and qualification. Based on the interview, an aspect of the research project will initially be assigned. 

  • Overall good academic standing with GPA above 2.50. Based on the interview, exception may be made.
  • “C or better” in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer with the latter being more important. Also “C or better” in laboratory courses.
  • Substantiable familiarity with SMRs designed.
  • Proficiency in Siemens NX (CAD) and additional medium to high user level in CFD and VR application software is desired.
  • Ability to learn software quickly is desired.
  • Ability to ask questions, be reliable – daily work during research award.
  • Work with others on a team; communicate effectively.
  • Be able to set priorities, understand key R&D tasks, deadlines, milestones and deliverables.