MSE Seminar: Fueling the Future: Universities’ Vital Role in Advancing Nuclear Reactor Technology


3:00 pm-4:00 pm
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Rhines Hall Room 125
549 Gale Lemerand Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611



In recent years, interest in advanced reactor designs (e.g., TerraPower’s 345 MWe Natrium reactor and Oklo’s 1.5 MWe microreactor) has soared. Their success hinges on understanding and predicting fuel behavior, which is vital for securing NRC approval. Fuel qualification is complex and involves collaboration between DOE labs, industry, and regulators, but what about universities?

This presentation explores the contribution universities make to fuel qualification efforts and on-campus nuclear fuels research conducted at the University of Florida. We’ll delve into metallic fuel behavior, compare it with oxide fuels, identify scientific gaps, establish microstructure-property relationships, and discuss ways to link experimental data with modeling. We’ll also showcase recent research by the MANATEE group and outline pathways for expediting fuel qualification efforts.


Assel Aitkaliyeva, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
University of Florida

Dr. Assel Aitkaliyeva is an Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida (UF), where she leads the Materials for Nuclear Advancement and Technology in Extreme Environments (MANATEE) research group. Her research concentrates on mechanistic understanding of material degradation mechanisms and spans nuclear fuels, advanced high-performance materials, and nuclear forensics. Prior to joining UF in Spring 2017, she was a staff scientist at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Dr. Aitkaliyeva received her PhD in Materials Science & Engineering and MS in Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University.


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Department of Materials Science & Engineering