"Building from a Strong Foundation"
Dr. David E. Holcomb is a distinguished member of the technical staff and distinguished inventor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He currently represents the United States and serves as a vice chair of the provisional system steering committee for the Generation IV International Forum on Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs), chairs the American Nuclear Society (ANS) working group developing a design safety standard for liquid-fueled MSRs (ANS 20.2), and provides technical oversight of US Department of Energy (DOE) university projects on MSRs. David is a past chair of the ANS Human Factors, Instrumentation, and Controls Division. He has been a staff member at ORNL for more than 25 years and is currently a member of the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division (NEFCD). He previously served as the national area technical lead for MSRs and advanced reactor instrumentation and controls for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). David served as the ORNL team lead for space reactor instrumentation as part of the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter program and has served as an adjunct assistant professor at The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in the Nuclear Engineering Department since 1995. He is a current member of the Nuclear Engineering Program advisory board for the Ohio State University.
Dr. N. Dianne Bull Ezell joined ORNL as an R&D Staff member in July 2011. She completed a PhD in 2016 focusing on signal processing of EMI rejection for Johnson Noise Thermometry, funded by the Small Modular Reactor Program. Dianne has supported the MSR Campaign focusing on technology maturation with the development of a corrosion monitoring sensor and design and fabrication of a prototypic off-gas system testbed. She also was the lead designer of the first-of-its-kind chloride salt study investigating effects of irradiation on corrosion advancement. Dianne recently stepped into a new role as project manager of the development of thermophysical property characterizations within the chemistry program. She has extensive experience with development and deployment of high-temperature experiments and data acquisition, analysis, and visualization. Dianne received a BS in Electrical Engineering (2007) and an MS in Electrical Engineering (2009) from The University of Tennessee with research focused on integrated circuit design. Dianne has been an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers since 2005 and has served on the local East Tennessee Executive Committee for over five years. She was nominated for senior membership in 2017.
Dr. Joanna McFarlane (PhD in Chemistry, 1990, University of Toronto, Canada) has been with ORNL since 2001. Before coming to ORNL, she worked at the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd Whiteshell Laboratories, Manitoba, Canada. While at Whiteshell, Joanna researched the physical chemistry of fission products, ran Knudsen cell experiments on fission product simulants (e.g., Cs2U2O4), investigated aerosol chemistry related to severe reactor accidents, and studied the transport of fission products in reactor primary heat transport systems using thermodynamic modeling. At ORNL, she is in the Fuel Cycle Chemistry Group within NEFCD. Joanna’s recent experience in nuclear research is related to the chemistry of fission products in MSRs, the purification and characterization of molten salts, and the measurement of thermochemical and thermophysical properties. She has also assisted with the separation of Pu-238 from irradiated Np-237 target materials supporting NASA’s future deep space missions. In particular, Joanna studied the dissolution kinetics of aluminum alloy cladding and the spectroscopic detection of hydroxylamine nitrate, its reactivity in nitric acid, and its reaction kinetics as a function of temperature. She has also participated in a wide variety of projects: the magnetic separation of UO2 particles; the production of biodiesel using a centrifugal contactor; the development of a high temperature organic heat transfer fluid for concentrating solar power; and has ongoing interest in fluid-rock interactions relevant both to nuclear waste disposal and petroleum extraction.
Jake McMurray earned a PhD in Energy Science and Engineering from The University of Tennessee -Knoxville in 2014 and BS in Chemical Engineering from The University of Mississippi in 2001. His background is in experimental and computational thermodynamic modeling of materials using the CALPHAD (CALculation of PHAse Diagrams) method.
In August of 2021, Jake joined the Kairos Power team as an Inorganic Chemist focusing on safety and chemical control of the molten salt loops to support licensing of the KP-FHR (Kairos Power Fluoride-cooled High-temperature Reactor). He was previously with Material Science and Technology Division at ORNL, plying his trade to develop fabrication routes for high density uranium bearing ceramic microspheres for TRISO (tri-structural isotropic) fuel designs, leading the Molten Salt Reactor Campaign chemistry effort, and serving as deputy lead for the Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) program as deputy lead for the Structural Materials and Chemistry technical area.
Dr. Kevin Robb is the Energy Systems Development Group Leader within NEFCD at ORNL. His primary research interests are in thermal-hydraulics and nuclear reactor safety. Kevin is supporting the development of high-temperature molten fluoride and chloride salt technology. End applications include a new generation of molten salt nuclear reactors and concentrating solar power plants. Two large-forced convection loops at ORNL highlight these efforts, the fluoride salt LSTL and the chloride salt FASTR. He supported the domestic post-accident analyses of the 2011 accidents at Fukushima Daiichi and is the lead at ORNL for the ongoing data collection and forensics work. Kevin also supported the development of accident tolerant fuel concepts to provide enhanced safety performance for existing nuclear reactors. Finally, he has investigated the thermal performance of as-loaded spent nuclear fuel casks. Kevin received his BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He received his MS and PhD degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Mrs. Sandra Poarch is a senior administrative assistant within NEFCD providing leadership and support for the many workshops, conferences, and training sessions that NEFCD convenes, in addition to some key programmatic roles. Prior to this role, she served as the division secretary for the former Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division (now NEFCD) from 2010–2019. Sandra has been at ORNL since 1991. She started her career in the operations side of the lab in the Waste Management Division, and she held various administrative assistant positions within that organization. In 2004, she moved to the research side of the lab accepting a position to work in the former Nuclear Science and Technology Division (now NEFCD) as the lead administrative assistant for the Nuclear Systems Analysis, Design, and Safety Technical Integration Area. She holds an AS in Office Administration from Roane State Community College.
This film was produced in 1969 by Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the United States Atomic Energy Commission to inform the public regarding the history, technology, and milestones of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was designed to assess the viability of liquid fuel reactor technologies for use in commercial power generation. It operated from January 1965 through December 1969, logging more than 13,000 hours at full power during its four-year run. The MSRE was designated a nuclear historic landmark in 1994.
Video shows a demonstration of replacing the major components of a molten salt reactor mock-up built by ORNL in the late 1950s - early 1960s using remote handling technology.