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CETA Unveils 'See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant'


Posted 02/22/2013
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Category: Campus Announcements

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Filburn discusses the Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant, which is behind him.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Filburn discusses the Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant, which is behind him.

CETA graduate student Jason Smith provided a demonstration of the model power plant.
CETA graduate student Jason Smith provided a demonstration of the model power plant.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a model that you can put your hands on is worth at least a thousand pictures. At least that’s true for the students who will get to learn about nuclear engineering by using the Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant, which was unveiled by the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA) on Friday, Feb. 15.

CETA’s newest teaching tool, which was designed and built by undergraduate and graduate students at CETA under the direction of Tom Filburn, professor of mechanical engineering, will provide students with a hands-on feel for the routine and off-normal operation of a Pressurized Water Reactor power plant.

Also on hand for the unveiling of the See-Thru Plant were Peter Lyons, assistant secretary for nuclear energy with the U.S. Department of Energy; and Tanya Parwani-Jaimes from the nuclear education grant program of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), along with a number of representatives of the nuclear power industry. University President Walter Harrison, CETA Dean Louis Manzione, and College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions Dean Ralph Mueller also attended the event.

Lyons said the ability to see and experience the mechanical operations of a modern nuclear power plant will be invaluable to the students who train on it. He added that there will be a growing demand for engineers to work in nuclear power plants in the years ahead, and that such a training tool will give CETA students a tremendous advantage, particularly since he knew of no other educational institution in the Northeast that has such a tool.

This model nuclear power plant will also be available to provide training courses for those newly hired into the region’s nuclear power industry.

This power plant model features glass tubes so that students can see how the plant generates steam and then converts that steam into power to turn a turbine, as a Pressurized Water Reactor power plant does, noted CETA graduate student Jason Smith, who provided a demonstration of the model power plant. The model also features computer display screens that are replicas of the control panels in working nuclear power plants, added Smith, who was one of the leaders of the student team of designers and builders.

The Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant was made possible through a $121,000 grant from the NRC, a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy (owner of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant), and $5,000 from Westinghouse Corp. The University is currently working on getting a grant to purchase the supplies to build a turbine that could be connected to the current model.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Filburn discusses the Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant, which is behind him.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Filburn discusses the Sub-Scale See-Thru Nuclear Power Plant, which is behind him.

CETA graduate student Jason Smith provided a demonstration of the model power plant.
CETA graduate student Jason Smith provided a demonstration of the model power plant.