Looking to the future of nuclear power in Asia.
Professor Thomas Drennen and William Kamery '02 recently returned from Seoul, South Korea, where they participated in a nuclear fuel model workshop at the behest of the Department of Energy. Drennen met with top scientists from Japan, Australia, China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to create practical solutions for the development of nuclear power.
Policymakers are considering nuclear energy as a long-term solution to assist governments in upgrading their infrastructure in the face of unprecedented growth. According to Drennen, China is planning to construct dozens of nuclear reactors in the coming years. “These countries are looking toward nuclear power to supply their energy needs for the coming decades,” he said.
Drennen, an expert in developing interactive computer models, tackled the complicated problems associated with helping these countries secure and enrich nuclear fuel in appropriate amounts. What’s needed, says Drennen, is a “regional supply organization” capable of predicting fuel requirements and dealing with nuclear waste. “If we can get these countries to agree on their plans for power,” he said, “we can build an interactive model to predict their requirements.”
Kamery, Drennen's research assistant and chief modeler, prepared detailed results based on the inputs from the participating scientists. “I couldn't have pulled this off without him,” said Drennen. “He lost lots of sleep getting the work done.”
The workshop in Seoul focused on building concrete plans for nuclear development that scientists can present to policymakers in their home countries. “They were very impressed,” said Drennen. “Hopefully this model can now be a starting place for further negotiation – give politicians hard numbers to think around.”
During the past few years, Drennen has garnered international attention for his work. Some of these projects, funded by the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., have been presented to members of Congress to help limit global warming. In addition, Drennen has been called to Washington to discuss domestic energy policy and the United States role in the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Drennen, who joined the faculty in 1995, holds a bachelor of science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate from Cornell University.
The workshop in Seoul was funded by the Department of Energy under its non-proliferation initiatives office, and the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute.