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					Department of Physics and Materials Science

                        Seminar



   Nuclear Power, Friend or Foe?

           Prof WOO Chung-ho
           Chair Professor of Solid-State Electronics,
     Department of Electronic and Information Engineering,
            The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

         Date: 31 May 2012 (Thursday)
      Time: 3:30 pm (tea reception: 3:15 pm)
      Venue: B6605 (CSE Conference Room)
                  Academic 1
          City University of Hong Kong
                    Enquiry: 3442-7787
     Nuclear Power, Friend or Foe?

               Prof WOO Chung-ho
              Chair Professor of Solid-State Electronics,
        Department of Electronic and Information Engineering,
               The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

                               ABSTRACT
Energy is fundamental to social and economic development. As global
population grows, the demand for energy consumption escalates. The
everlasting pursuit of better health, longevity, economic growth and
comfortable life puts mounting pressure on the natural resources and energy
consumption. Fossil fuels have been our major sources of energy, but their
production is peaking. Intensive burning over the years has also been
causing adversaries in global warming. There is little doubt that nuclear
energy is a necessary component of our future energy mix. Due to the
complexity of technology involved and the grave consequences of a nuclear
mishap, expertise in the science and engineering of nuclear reactors is an
absolute necessity for the utilization of nuclear energy for human benefit.

The central task of operating a nuclear reactor is to keep its temperature,
pressure and neutron field under control so that a self-sustaining nuclear
chain reaction at steady fission rate can be maintained to produce a stable
power output. Failure to control these parameters could cause serious
damage to the containment and reactor structures with disastrous
consequence. Systems required to support this central task include, the fuel,
the neutron control, the cooling and heat transport, the waste disposal and
the reactor structure maintenance. Insufficient understanding of the
complex behavior of these highly interactive systems can lead to system
instability and potentially dangerous situations.

A subtle problem often neglected is that fast-neutron bombardments in
nuclear reactors typically occur at a hit rate of hundreds of billions per
second per cm3. They create “local explosions” in which nano-scale
localities in in-reactor components are raised to temperatures of tens of
thousands of degrees. These highly heated regions cool down quickly
within pico-seconds, “quenching-in” lattice defects. Given the small
tolerance of the reactor structure, the associated dimension changes,
fracture resistance degradation, and accelerated corrosion can seriously
affect the safe and efficient operation of nuclear reactors, and is a
particularly serious problem for aging reactors, despite the most careful and
competent reactor operation. These issues will be introduced in the present
talk.

                       Short CV for Prof C. H. Woo
Professor Woo graduated from The University of Hong Kong in Applied
Math, got his PhD in Theoretical Solid-State Physics from Univ. of
Waterloo, and was awarded the higher doctorate degree of D.Sc. from HKU
in the field of materials science and engineering. He was with Atomic
Energy of Canada for over 20 years, and was one of the highest-ranking
scientist before returning to Hong Kong in 1996. He joined The Hong Kong
Polytechnic University, where he has been Chair Professor of Mechanical
Engineering, and is now Chair Professor of Solid-State Electronics since
2005. His main research interest is in the thermal-mechanical behavior of
materials for nuclear and electronic applications.

				
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posted:10/26/2012
language:English
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