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Per Peterson

William and Jean McCallum Floyd Endowed Chair
4167 Etcheverry Hall

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, 1982
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1986
Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1988

Teaching and Research: 

Prof. Peterson's research focuses on problems in energy and environmental systems, including high-temperature reactors, high level nuclear waste processing, and nuclear materials management.

Prof. Peterson manages the U.C. Berkeley Thermal Hydraulics Research Laboratory, located in 4118 Etcheverry Hall, with additional experiments in 1140 Etcheverry.

Professor Peterson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics, reactor thermal hydraulics, and reactor safety. The courses focus on nuclear applications. His research interests involve issues in reactor safety and licensing, high-temperature reactor technology, nuclear air combined cycle power conversion, condensation and large-scale mixing processes in advanced passive reactors, and nuclear materials management and security.

Specific ongoing research projects include studies of heat transport and fluid mechanics in liquid-fluoride salt cooled reactors; gas-Brayton power conversion for nuclear systems; performance based, technology neutral regulation and licensing of advanced reactors; seismic base isolation and modular construction methods; and security and safeguards technologies for nuclear materials and facilities.

Current Research Focus: 

Development of the ANS Safety Standard 20.1 for Fluoride-Salt-Cooled, High-Temperature Reactors
Nuclear Air Combined Cycle Power Conversion
Compact Integral Effects Test for FHRs
Safeguards Methods for Pebble and Molten Salt Fueled Reactors

Honors and Awards: 

Presidential Young Investigator
Fellow, American Nuclear Society

Professional Activities: 

Per Peterson performs research related to high-temperature fission energy systems, as well as studying topics related to the safety and security of nuclear materials and waste management. He recently participated as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, which provided recommendations on a new path forward for U.S. policy to manage high level waste and spent fuel.  He has also participated on National Research Council committees providing advice on a variety of nuclear-related topics. He has served as a member and chair of numerous advisory committees for the national laboratories, including LLNL, LANL, INL, ORNL, and PNNL. He participated in the development of the Generation IV Roadmap in 2002 as a member of the Evaluation Methodology Group, and currently co-chairs its Proliferation Resistance and Physical Protection Working Group. His research in the 1990's contributed to the development of the passive safety systems used in the GE ESBWR and Westinghouse AP-1000 reactor designs. Currently his research group focuses primarily on heat transfer, fluid mechanics, regulation and licensing for high temperature reactors, principally designs that use liquid fluoride salts as coolants.

Selected Publications: 

Prof. Peterson's publications focus on topics related to heat and mass transfer and fluid dynamics, with applications to nuclear systems. Selected examples include:

J. Woodcock, P.F. Peterson, D.R. Spencer, "Quantifying the Effects of Break Source Flow Rates on AP600 Containment Stratification," Nuclear Technology, Vol. 134, pp. 37-48, 2001.

C.W. Forsberg, P. Pickard, and P.F. Peterson, "Molten-Salt-Cooled Advanced High-Temperature Reactor for Production of Hydrogen and Electricity," Nuclear Technology Vol. 144, pp. 289-302 (2003).

H. Zhao and P.F. Peterson, "Multiple Reheat Brayton Cycles for Sodium Fast Reactors," Nuclear Engineering and Design, Vol. 238, Issue 7, pgs 1535-1546 (2008).

P. Bardet and P.F. Peterson, "Options for Scaled Experiments for High Temperature Liquid Salt and Helium Fluid Mechanics and Convective Heat Transfer," Nuclear Technology, Vol. 163, pp. 344 – 357, 2008.

J.T. Birkholzer, N. Halecky, S. W. Webb, P. F. Peterson, and G.S. Bodvarsson, "A Modeling Study Evaluating the Thermal-Hydrological Conditions in and Near Waste Emplacement Tunnels at Yucca Mountain," Nuclear Technology. Vol. 163, pp. 147-164 (2008).

P.F. Peterson, “Elements of the Proliferation Resistance and Physical Protection (PR&PP) Evaluation Methodology,” Nuclear Technology, Vol. 179, pp. 45-51 (2012).