Geologists and geochemists study the Nopal 1 uranium deposit in Chihuahua, Mexico, as a possible analog to the behavior of spent nuclear fuel in an arid environment.
Time-domain soil structure analysis software enables geotechnical engineers and seismologists to assess the seismic hazard associated with dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel.
CNWRA scientists and engineers applied their multidisciplinary expertise in risk assessment to identity and quantify the types and consequences of accidents that can occur in uranium in-situ leach facilities.
A nuclear energy renaissance is underway. On the horizon: a renewed interest in advanced reactor technologies and new power plant construction to provide reliable base-load capacity and ensure a diversified energy portfolio, while keeping greenhouse gas production low. It’s a highly regulated, technically complex, and capital intensive industry, and human capital is key for the safe expansion of nuclear energy. At the same time, an aging workforce makes it difficult to locate the necessary mission-critical skills. The Geosciences and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is a unique single source of technical expertise.
Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses
The Geosciences and Engineering Division has a long history of providing expert technical and regulatory analysis for nuclear programs around the world, while remaining free from potential conflicts of interest. It began with the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses (CNWRA®) at SwRI, founded in 1987 as the only U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)-sponsored Federally Funded Research and Development Center. Since then, the Geosciences and Engineering Division has supported a wide range of nuclear programs for government agencies and commercial clients worldwide.
Nuclear Technology Projects
Geosciences and Engineering Division nuclear technology projects range from short-term projects with budgets of a few thousand dollars to long-term programs with annual budgets approaching $20 million. Geosciences and Engineering Division staff work closely with clients to understand unique needs and organizational requirements. All work follows a rigorous NRC-compliant quality assurance program to ensure on-time, on-budget delivery of products that meet the most exacting client needs.
Nuclear Technology Experience
Through the initial development of a vibrant nuclear technology program to support the NRC, SwRI has extensive expertise in all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including:
- Uranium recovery
- Uranium enrichment
- Nuclear fuel fabrication
- Nuclear waste management
- Decontamination and decommissioning
- Site remediation
Geosciences and Engineering staff use a multidisciplinary team approach that addresses common issues related to:
- Site characterization
- Material and corrosion science
- Facility design review
- Safety reviews
- Environmental impact assessment
- Hazard assessment
- Probabilistic performance assessment
Problem Solving Techniques
Geosciences and Engineering Division staff couple the latest technology with staff expertise to solve the most challenging client problems. Transparent and traceable technical support includes:
- High-end computer simulation
- Customized field campaigns
- Carefully designed laboratory programs and analysis
- Compliance determination for applicable laws and relevant regulatory requirements
In undertaking this type of work, the Geosciences and Engineering Division relies on highly skilled staff with expertise in
- Risk assessment
- Health physics, nuclear engineering, and risk assessment
- Corrosion science and process engineering
- Mining, geotechnical, and facility engineering
- Computational fluid dynamics
nuclear technology • radionuclides • human health risks • regulatory compliance • earth sciences • engineering and systems assessment • nonrepository programs • decommissioning • environmental impact assessment • hazard assessment • nuclear fuel fabrication • nuclear waste management • probabilistic risk assessment • radiological dose assessment • uranium recovery • uranium mill tailings • aircraft crash assessment