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Boise State students receive national awards for nuclear energy research

Posted: 4:23 PM, Apr 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-17 23:39:19Z
Boise State students receive national awards for nuclear energy research

BOISE — These three students could unlock the future to green nuclear energy.

"I didn't necessarily know about material science, but material science can have such a critical impact on today's engineering," said undergraduate student and scholarship recipient Kaelee Novich.

These Boise State students found out they were among the handful of recipients chosen for the Department of Energy's Integrated University Program, resulting in fellowships and scholarships worth $7,500 and $50,000 to continue their research.

Addie, who was awarded the fellowship, is researching the fuel behind nuclear energy.

"About 20% of us electricity produced through nuclear energy," said fellowship recipient Addie Lupercio, "we have about 100 or so light-water reactors here in the United States that are operating, and the type of fuel that's used in those reactors is uranium dioxide, and that's the fuel that I'm focused on."

Her goal is to get ahead of the green movement.
"It's really ramping up, and I want to make sure I'm part of it so we can advance it and have cleaner energy in the U.S.," said Lupercio.

Across the lab, a scholarship recipient is researching the nuclear waste left behind.

"Each nuclear reactor produces some kind of waste, but where we store that waste currently is reaching capacity," said Novich, "So, right now, currently we are storing nuclear waste below ground in pools, but that pool storage is very limited."

Her approach would take the waste above ground, safely.

"Hopefully and securely could hold the nuclear waste without it being hazardous to humans that around these containment storage units," said Novich.

Behind all the science lies another commonality.

"It all ties back to mathematical concepts," said undergraduate student and scholarship recipient Sven Marnauzs, "in nuclear science and engineering, they're always looking for better and safer materials to use, and what my focus is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to kind of help accelerate the discovery of those new materials."