Dr. Eric Loewen

Dr. Eric Loewen

Nuclear Engineering

Instructor Website

Dr. Jason Hou

Nuclear Engineering

Phone: 919-513-6706
Instructor Website
Research Website

NE 591-601 Metal Cooled Reactors

3 Credit Hours

This course is intended to provide students with an understanding of the technology associated with high neutron energy reactors (most often called fast reactors). The course material consist primarily of archival papers from the literature. A bibliography of papers relevant to these reactors will be listed in the course syllabus which will provide students with reference material for required reading assignments, homework and a term paper.


NE 201 Introduction to Nuclear Engineering (or equivalent), NE 301 Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering (or equivalent).

Two semesters of calculus and one year of chemistry.

Course Objectives

  • Learn the capabilities of a fast spectrum reactor.
  • Learn the advantages and disadvantages of metal coolants.
  • Learn from a systems point of view how a sodium cooled reactor operates.

Course Topics

Modules Lesson Title
  History, Background, and General Operation
1 Class Intro and Expectations
2 Historic Overview and Current Concepts
3 Reactor Plant Systems and Basic Operation
  Core Design: fuel types, physics and heat removal
4 Reactor Fuel: Oxide, Carbide and Metal
5 Reactor Fuel Redistribution
6 Fast Reactor Neutronics
7 Fast Reactor Analysis Methods
8 Thermal Hydraulics of metal cooled system
  Systems and Components Unique to MCR systems
9 Decay Heat Removal
10 EM Pumps
11 Evaporator, super heaters and Steam Generators
12 Sodium Receiving and Transfer
13 Sodium Chemistry and Clean Up
14 Inert Gas Handling and cleaning
15 DCIS and Instrumentation
  Policy and Regulatory Issues
16 Regulatory Issues and Challenges
17 Fast Reactor Policy

Course Requirements

Your grade for this class has three (3) inputs:

  1. Homework (25%)
  2. Term Paper (25%)
  3. Two Exams (25% each) – the second exam will also be the final
  • The homework will be both written deliverables (e.g. read this NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] requirement and explain why or why not it applies to a metal cooled reactor) and problem based (e.g. calculate the flow of sodium and lead required to remove fission heat from this type of fuel assembly).
  • Term paper: You may write on any topic related to fast reactors, but it should include a thorough review of a technical area as well as a description of the issues that need to be resolved to bring that technology to fruition. Target length is ten (10) pages and two (2) power point slides that summarize your efforts. In short, show me that you can communicate technical information in the written work and teach me something. You are to decide on a subject. I will discuss your chosen topic with you individually and will make suggestions. Next, you are to prepare a detailed outline of your paper with references. At this point, I will again discuss and make suggestions before you start writing the paper.
  • The two (2) exams will be a mixture of multiple choice, problems, and short answer.