Doctoral student receives 2021 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award

Dimitris Killinger
Dimitris Killinger (B.S.’15)

Dimitris Killinger (B.S.’15), a doctoral student in VCU’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, has received the 2021 Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award.

This highly competitive national prize is awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain.

Killinger’s research focuses on developing new methods to improve nuclear waste accountability techniques used in nuclear fuel reprocessing for molten salt reactors. His adviser is Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D., Qimonda professor and director of nuclear engineering programs at VCU.

Killinger’s award-winning paper evaluates the performance of several materials used as electrodes in electrochemical based techniques that may be used to get real-time measurements of nuclear materials in advanced reactor technologies. The data suggested that some materials commonly used for this purpose and thought to be reliable are in fact unstable and result in measurements with high margins of error.

“This is crucial in fuel cycle applications, since accountability measures necessitate knowing how much nuclear material is in a system at any given time. Detecting whether any nuclear material has been diverted is crucial so corrective actions can be taken promptly,” Killinger said. “We hope this work can inform material considerations in molten salt systems for future research, industrial and commercial applications.”

Among Killinger’s previous honors are an American Nuclear Society national scholarship and the Roy G. Post Foundation scholarship.

“Dimitris’ study provides a strong foundation and comparison between different reference electrodes under various parametric effects in the molten salt systems,” Phongikaroon said. “This work will help to advance molten salt electrochemical studies especially towards several clean energy applications.”