Research Will Lead to Next-Generation Nuclear Energy Systems
Ho Lun Chan (Lun) earned a scholarship and top honors in the field of corrosion science for research that will lead to next-generation nuclear energy systems. Chan is a Ph.D. candidate of materials science and engineering at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the corrosion and electrochemistry research group led by John R. Scully, Charles Henderson Professor of materials science and engineering and co-director of the Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering. Chan earned a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program award to support his research.
Chan earned the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers Henry deWitt Smith Scholarship at TMS 2022, the annual meeting and expo of The Materials, Metals & Minerals Society.
Chan also earned the top prize in the structural materials division graduate poster session, sharing how materials corrosion in Gen-IV molten salt nuclear reactors may be controlled.
Following on his success, Chan attended the Association for Materials Protection and Performance 2022 conference at San Antonio, Texas. He earned first prize in the Harvey Hero Prize for Applied Corrosion Technology category for research that illustrates the influence of electrochemistry on materials’ microstructure and subsequent effects on the materials’ corrosion transport properties.
Chan’s research contributes to a multi-institutional effort funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences to address the viability of next-generation reactor materials. Scully and members of his research group are teammates in the Fundamental Understanding of Transport Under Reactor Extremes (FUTURE) Energy Frontier Research Center.
Co-led by scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley, the center is dedicated to understanding how the extreme conditions encountered by materials in nuclear reactors – radiation damage, corrosive environments, high stresses and high temperatures – couple to affect the corrosion properties of the material.
The team will use Chan’s findings to develop a framework to understand irradiation effect and guide the discovery of corrosion-resistant alloys, accelerating the efforts to commercialize a long lifetime, efficient, safe Gen-IV reactor.
“Experts predict that global energy demand will increase by 50% by the year 2050,” Chan said. Molten salt reactor design is a key area of R&D to meet this need.
“My research deepens our knowledge of the thermodynamics and kinetics involved in chromium’s corrosion resistance to molten fluoride salts, moving beyond observational description toward a more predictive and quantitative understanding,” Chan said.