Building a Molten Salt Research Reactor in Texas by 2025

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Derek Haas, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Kevin Clarno, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering (NEXTRA), The University of Texas at Austin

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Speaker Biography: Derek Haas

Derek Haas joined the faculty of The University of Texas after eight years at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he worked as a Senior Research Engineer in the National Security Directorate. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from UT Austin. His research interests focus on radiation detection for nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, and advanced reactor design and licensing. This includes the fundamental physics of radioactive decay processes, fission yields, environmental transport of radionuclides, and detection techniques. His research is primarily experimental and uses the 1.1 MW TRIGA Mark II reactor at The University of Texas at Austin. 

Speaker Biography: Kevin Clarno

Dr. Clarno is a tenured Associate Professor in the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program and Affiliate Faculty in the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin with a research focus on computational nuclear energy and reactor analysis.  Dr. Clarno also holds a Joint Faculty Appointment with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he previously worked 15 years (2004-2019).  While working at ORNL, Dr. Clarno was also an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK), through a Joint Faculty Appointment in the Nuclear Engineering Department, and held Adjunct Faculty appointments at the University of Utah and UTK.

Dr. Clarno is an expert in advanced nuclear modeling and simulation of both traditional and advanced nuclear reactors, with a specialization in radiation transport.   Dr. Clarno has led multiple national, multi-institutional, high-performance computing (HPC) research programs, including the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) as Interim Director; the CASL Physics Integration (PHI) Focus Area; modernization of the SCALE nuclear analysis software; development of the Advanced Multi-Physics (AMP) fuel performance code; and a portfolio of ORNL laboratory-directed strategic research projects. As a technical contributor at ORNL, Dr. Clarno has developed high-performance computing software, researched new algorithms for SCALE, and performed analyses of nuclear reactors for a diverse set of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and DOE projects.


The Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Research Alliance (NEXTRA) is a collaboration between Abilene Christian University, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, and The University of Texas at Austin funded by Natura Resources, LLC to design, license, build, and operate a molten salt reactor in Abilene, Texas by 2025. The Molten Salt Research Reactor will be the first liquid-fueled molten salt reactor licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Molten salt reactors have the potential to provide electricity, medical isotopes, and industrial process heat in a reactor design that is even safer and more flexible than existing nuclear reactors. The coolant from molten salt reactors provides heat at ~600 ⁰C (300 ⁰C higher than traditional water-cooled reactors) which will increase efficiencies of electricity generation, hydrogen production, and desalination. ACU submitted the construction permit to the NRC in August 2022. This talk will cover the status and future of project as well as potential for parallel development and public engagement.

Date and Time
Sept. 27, 2022, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Locations: Live Stream Online (Zoom and YouTube)
Event tags
UT Energy Symposium