Research Areas

The Nuclear Engineering program of the University of Florida is comprised of classroom and laboratory instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and a strong, diverse research program.

The ongoing mission of the program is to provide an education to individuals who will make key contributions and become future leaders serving Florida and the nation by improving and applying nuclear science and technology.

Students interested in study towards the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees should contact appropriate faculty members to determine their individual research directions.

Nuclear Materials
 Nuclear material refers to the metals uranium, plutonium, and thorium, in any form, according to the IAEA. This is differentiated further into “source material”, consisting of natural and depleted uranium, and “special fissionable material”, consisting of enriched uranium (U-235), uranium-233, and plutonium-239.

According to the NRC, “Special nuclear material” (SNM) is defined by Title I of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as plutonium, uranium-233, or uranium enriched in the isotopes uranium-233 or uranium-235. The definition includes any other material that the Commission determines to be special nuclear material, but does not include source material. The NRC has not declared any other material as SNM.

Nuclear materials research in the Nuclear Engineering Program at UF is focused on developing advanced nuclear fuel material to improve the thermal conductivity of the nuclear fuel resulting in reduced fuel temperatures, fuel thermal expansion, thermal cracking and fission gas releases to produce a better performing, higher burn-up, and more accident tolerant fuel.

Researchers: Yang, Tulenko, Aitkaliyeva 


Modeling and Simulation
 Exciting new developments in multi-scale and multi-physics modeling, coupled with the rapidly advancing capabilities of high-performance computers and associated algorithmic and simulation methodologies, are making it possible to simulate nuclear systems with much higher fidelity than ever before. An integrated focus on advanced computational modeling and simulation research underlies all of the main application areas of the department.

At UF, NE faculty and students are engaged in research in a number of important areas, including advanced modeling and simulation of reactor neutronics, reactor criticality safety, methods development for reactor physics applications, radiation shielding methods development, neutron and gamma cross section data procession methods and tools, as well as methods and code development for static and time-dependent neutron transport.

Researcher: Goluoglu 



Nuclear Security and Safeguards
 Nuclear safeguards are measures to verify that civil nuclear facilities are not being misused to pursue weapons and associated materials are properly accounted for and are not diverted to undeclared uses.

The NRC is responsible to ensure safeguards and security by regulating licensees’ accounting systems for special nuclear and source materials and security programs and contingency plans.

The terms safeguards and security are generally used to describe programs that promote the common defense and security and protect public health and safety by guarding against theft and sabotage. The licensee security programs and contingency plans deal with threats, thefts, and sabotage relating to special nuclear material, high-level radioactive wastes, nuclear facilities, and other radioactive materials and activities that the NRC regulates.

Students who are interested in this field of study will have the opportunity to pursue careers in domestic and international safeguards measures at NRC or IAEA.

Researchers: Baciak, Enqvist



Thermal Hydraulics
 Research in thermal hydraulics and reactor safety encompasses studies of two-phase flow, heat transfer, phase change, coolant dynamics, liquid metal flow, magneto-hydrodynamics and various phenomena related to reactor safety.

Thermal hydraulics research at UF is conducted at the Laboratory for Visualization, Imaging, and Computation of Thermohydraulics for Reactors (VICTR), where research is focused on two-phase flow, nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics, quantitative visualization, nuclear reactor safety, computational and numerical methods including coupled codes and advanced nuclear power systems.

Researcher: Schubring 



Nuclear Reactors
 Fission technology has been synonymous with nuclear power generation since the 1950.Today, fission is entering a new era—one in which new—generation reactors, upgraded existing plants, and new fuel cycle strategies will redefine nuclear power’s role in the world’s overall energy supply. Future reactors will take advantage of advanced design and construction techniques to use fuel more efficiently, generate less waste, reduce capital and operating costs, and work in tandem with intermittent sources of renewable energy, while continuing to provide electricity without carbon emissions.

Nuclear engineering is unique at UF because of the augmentation by the UF Training Reactor (UFTR). The reactor is 1 of only 31 research reactors in the country. It is an Argonaut type reactor and it has a power limit of 100 kW. The reactor uses low enriched uranium (LEU) as fuel after undergoing a fuel conversion in 2006.

The reactor was built and began operation in 1959 and plays a vital role in the Nuclear Engineering education at UF. It provides tools for training, education and experiment for students and allows collaboration between faculty in areas of nuclear physics and material.

Researcher: Winfrey