Yang Zhong, a doctoral candidate in Prof. Leon Shaw’s group, was selected as a Fellow in the 2011 Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR) Summer Fellowship Program.
CSNR was created at the Idaho National Laboratory to investigate potential nuclear technologies that could dramatically alter space exploration. For the past five years, the CSNR has offered an intense 10-week CSNR Summer Fellows program for graduate and undergraduate students in a wide variety of scientific disciplines – nuclear engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, material science, aerospace engineering, mathematics and chemistry.
Of over 50 students who applied for the summer 2011 fellowships, only 14 were selected. The project Yang will pursue in the summer is related to tungsten cermet fabrication — development of a “universal encapsulation” for all radioactive sources that are to be launched from Earth – including radioisotope sources, nuclear rockets and nuclear reactors for surface power. The basis of the encapsulation is fabrication of a tungsten matrix to contain the isotopic material. The production of nuclear fuels for fission reaction systems based upon tungsten based cermets is of particular interest for increased operational safety and security. Yang will work with CSNR staff to develop and diagnose tungsten cermet samples using the Spark Plasma Sintering furnace.