2009
NSF grant supports study that could improve efficiency of nuclear plants

NSF grant supports study that could improve efficiency of nuclear plants
December 2, 2009

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094
pbrozynski@ben.edu

Timothy Marin, Ph.D. associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Benedictine University, has been awarded a $74,599 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue his study of high temperature and supercritical water. Marin’s project, titled “Ultraviolet Absorption of the Lowest-Lying Electronic State in High-Temperature and Supercritical Water,” was initially funded by a Research Corporation for Science Advancement Cottrell College Science Award of $32,318 in the spring of 2008. The NSF grant will allow him to continue his work. The experiments are taking place at the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC), in Stoughton, Wis., an NSF-funded federal research center associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The SRC’s main purpose is to provide an extremely bright source of ultraviolet light for experimental work that requires it. The experiments are being conducted in collaboration with the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory, a Department of Energy-funded research center. The intense ultraviolet light source available at SRC is being used to investigate the structure of water under very high temperature and pressure conditions. Without knowing how water actually behaves under these conditions, the full capabilities of processes that make use of it cannot be utilized. Such processes include cooling loops in nuclear reactors and new “supercritical water oxidation facilities,” which are chemical reactors that use high temperature and pressure water to break down toxic organic chemical waste. “Once we determine the physical and chemical properties of water under these conditions, which are drastically different than those under ambient temperatures and pressures, engineers will likely be better able to optimize toxic waste disposal and greatly improve the operating efficiency of nuclear power plants,” Marin said.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.